Topeka An administrative judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled that Phill Kline was retaliating against a senior Johnson County prosecutor when he fired her in April 2007 after he took over as the county’s district attorney.
Kline, who was Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007 before being defeated by Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, was appointed to Morrison’s D.A. post after he left state office. A few months later, he fired Jacqie Spradling, a 15-year prosecutor in that office who was section chief of the domestic violence unit.
In that role, Spradling supervised four attorneys and three interns, handled more than 400 cases and supervised nearly 2,000 cases in 2006, while also prosecuting homicide cases.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro made the ruling a month ago in the case filed by Spradling with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Kline’s attorney, Reid Holbrook, said he disagreed with Biro’s interpretation of case law in her ruling, and that Kline was appealing the ruling.
Biro’s ruling is attached to a lawsuit filed by Spradling in Johnson County District Court. It’s an exhibit on a Spradling filing in her state case against Kline as district attorney.
A motions hearing in the state case is scheduled for Monday at the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe.
In her state case, Spradling is seeking damages for mental anguish, no less than $63,000 in past wage loss, no less than $68,000 in future lost income, legal fees and lost benefits. She’s also seeking a court order protecting female employees from sexual discrimination and retaliation in the district attorney’s office.
In her 16-page ruling, Biro said statements in Kline’s June 15 affidavit — three weeks after Spradling filed a motion for partial summary decision — were “not credible” because they conflicted with Kline’s earlier deposition.
“Excluding Mr. Kline’s contradictory affidavit statements leaves the evidence of discrimination offered by Ms. Spradling unexplained and unrebutted,” she wrote.
Biro noted that Kline fired Spradling about one month after she submitted written allegations of sexual discrimination, and four days after Kline notified the Johnson County Department of Human Resources that his office wouldn’t cooperate with the human resources investigation based on Spradling’s allegations.
In an April 20, 2007, memo to Kline, senior deputy district attorney Stephen Maxwell listed 10 points specifying why Spradling should be dismissed. She was fired April 24, 2007.
Kline has denied that she was terminated out of retaliation or discriminated against. Kline’s defense previously called her firing a “legitimate business decision based on factors that were appropriate.”