Disciplinary hearing gets underway for former prosecutor Amy McGowan, will be continued to another date

photo by: Screenshot

Former prosecutor Amy McGowan is shown during a hearing before a Missouri attorney disciplinary panel on Oct. 2, 2020.

A hearing before a Missouri disciplinary panel began on Friday for a former longtime prosecutor of the Douglas County district attorney’s office.

Despite running over most of the day Friday, the hearing for Amy McGowan — who came to Douglas County just short of 15 years ago after working in Jackson County, Mo., and who was a prosecutor in the Douglas County DA’s office until her retirement late last year — will have to be continued to a later date.

The hearing was about McGowan’s conduct in the case of Ricky Kidd, a man who was wrongly convicted for a 1996 double murder in Kansas City, Mo., and spent 23 years in prison.

Kidd was exonerated last August after Dekalb County, Mo., Judge Daren Adkins ruled that McGowan had failed to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, including transcripts of a deposition of the people Kidd had said were responsible for the crime. The judge wrote that McGowan also withheld evidence that one of the witnesses was not believable and instead portrayed him as a “heroic neighbor” in her closing arguments.

Kidd himself was in attendance at the virtual hearing. Testimony Friday came from three defense attorneys: two who had represented Kidd’s co-defendant in the case, Marcus Merrill, and Kidd’s trial attorney, Teresa Anderson.

McGowan appeared with attorney John Turner, but she did not testify on Friday. It was unclear whether she will do so when the hearing continues. In his opening arguments, Turner shared information that could mitigate one allegation of misconduct against McGowan.

Though Adkins wrote in his Aug. 14, 2019, ruling that McGowan failed to disclose to Anderson some information that could have impeached the key witness who placed Kidd at the scene of the murder, Turner brought out evidence from the original case file. It showed that Anderson was actually aware of that information and had filed a motion to prevent discussion of it in court. It was not clear why the state did not bring up that motion during the hearing on Kidd’s final push to be exonerated.

Other issues remain — Anderson said she was not made aware of a deposition of two other witnesses whom she had not been able to interview, and whom she believed could have been alternative suspects in Kidd’s case.

Once the hearing concludes, the disciplinary panel could recommend discipline including a public reprimand, probation, suspension or disbarment. If the panel determines disciplinary action is warranted, it will submit a recommendation in writing to the Missouri Supreme Court, which would make a final ruling.

Prior to the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election, the presumed next Douglas County district attorney, Suzanne Valdez, told the Journal-World that she was interested in pursuing a conviction integrity unit that would review cases that have been litigated to ensure that convictions were not wrongful. Valdez specifically mentioned McGowan’s long tenure with the DA’s office as a factor that she believes has caused the public to lose confidence in the office.

Members of the public were removed from the virtual hearing before McGowan’s next hearing date was announced.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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Related coverage

July 29, 2020: FAQs and fact-checks in the race for Douglas County district attorney

July 15, 2020: Protesters call for reforms in Douglas County district attorney’s office, review of former prosecutor’s cases

July 2, 2020: Kansas Court of Appeals dismisses murder case against Danny Queen in 2017 Eudora bar shooting

Oct. 23, 2019: Douglas County prosecutor McGowan to retire; protesters had called for her firing

Sept. 16, 2019: Protesters call for prosecutor Amy McGowan to be fired over alleged misconduct; DA calls event a stunt to possibly sway jury

Aug. 16, 2013: Kansas Supreme Court affirms conviction in rape charge

Feb. 14, 2013: Douglas County prosecutor removed from cases for errors in trials

Feb. 8, 2013: Douglas County prosecutor’s comments lead court to vacate sentence


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