Archive for Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kline sued by fired prosecutor

July 27, 2010

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— A lawyer for a former northeast Kansas district attorney denied Monday that a senior prosecutor who claimed sex discrimination in a lawsuit over her firing was dismissed for improper reasons.

Jacqie Spradling was a senior Johnson County prosecutor when Phill Kline was appointed district attorney in January 2007, two months after he lost a re-election bid as Kansas attorney general to the former Johnson County DA, Paul Morrison. Kline fired several prosecutors the day he took office and dismissed Spradling three months later, in April 2007.

Spradling’s June 22 lawsuit names Kline, several others in the district attorney’s office and the Johnson County Commission. Spradling, who had 15 years in the Johnson County office and led its domestic violence unit under Morrison, alleges she was fired in retaliation for her complaints of sex discrimination.

Mark Stafford, a Topeka lawyer representing Kline and several other defendants, denied Spradling’s claims in an interview Monday with The Topeka Capital-Journal.

“There was no sexual discrimination or retaliation,” Stafford told the newspaper. He said Spradling’s dismissal “was a legitimate business decision based on factors that were appropriate.”

The case is set for a jury trial in Johnson County District Court beginning Oct. 24, 2011, and is expected to take two weeks.

“It looks like we’re setting in for a good long dispute,” Stafford said.

As section chief of the district attorney’s domestic violence unit, Spradling supervised four attorneys. She handled more than 400 cases and supervised nearly 2,000 in 2006, and prosecuted homicide cases.

Her lawsuit alleges in part that Kline and his senior deputy district attorney tolerated incompetence by male attorneys and made “unwarranted criticism” of female attorneys.

Spradling also claims Kline and the senior deputy stripped her of duties for accusing them of sex discrimination, and used “intrusive and extraordinary steps” to obtain information about her conversations and activities.

Donald D. Jarrett, chief counsel for the Johnson County Commission, said in a June 30 filing that the commission didn’t have enough information to admit or deny Spradling’s allegations.

Spradling’s lawsuit alleges that sweeps of her office with a radio frequency detector indicated it was monitored by audio surveillance equipment.

Spradling first aired her accusations in a July 2007 news conference. At the time, Kline denied that Spradling’s office had been bugged.

Spradling is seeking damages of at least $63,000 in past lost wages and at least $68,000 in future lost income. She is now the chief deputy district attorney in Shawnee County.

Kline lost a Republican primary in his bid for a full term as district attorney in August 2008. He is currently a visiting assistant professor of law at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va.

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