A former GOP prosecutor had her license to practice law revoked by the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday for engaging in “a serious pattern of grossly unethical misconduct” during a 2012 murder trial and a 2017 rape trial.
Former Shawnee County chief deputy district attorney Jacqueline “Jacqie” Spradling was disbarred after a majority of justices on the Sunflower State’s highest court found that her behavior during Dana Chandler‘s murder trial and in subsequent investigations and proceedings violated several professional conduct rules and court orders.
“Respondent failed in her obligation to act as a minister of justice in her prosecution of Dana Chandler,” the majority said in their 98-page opinion. “She ignored the order of a district court, repeatedly made arguments to the jury that lacked any evidentiary support, intentionally lied to this court in her briefs and in oral arguments, and made false statements during the disciplinary investigation.”
“After carefully considering the findings, conclusions, recommendations, and the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, we find that respondent’s intolerable acts of deception warrant the severe sanction of disbarment,” the court concluded.
Last year, a disciplinary panel unanimously recommended Spradling’s disbarment over the Chandler trial. She most recently served as Bourbon County Attorney before resigning in June of last year. She was elected to the office as a Republican in November 2020.
“This is a huge decision,” attorney Keen Umbehr, who filed one of the complaints against Spradling, said in comments to The Kansas City Star on Friday. “Disbarring a prosecutor is so rare.”
Spradling won convictions against Chandler the 2002 slayings of the defendant’s ex-husband Mike Sisco and his fiancée Karen Harkness. She later won convictions against Jacob Ewing in 2017 for two counts of rape, four counts of criminal sodomy, two counts of battery, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of hosting minors consuming alcohol, and one count of furnishing cereal malt beverages to a minor.
Eventually, all those convictions were overturned.
Chandler is still being tried for the murders but has consistently maintained her innocence. In November 2020, she lost a bid to have her re-trial barred under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2021, Ewing took a plea deal for 10 years in prison. He was previously sentenced to 27 years in prison after Spradling’s ultimately-failed-and-reversed prosecutorial efforts. She had been hired as a special prosecutor in that Jackson County case.
The high court said the former prosecutor’s conduct during Chandler trial was more serious than her conduct during the Ewing trial, but in the end, the court determined that Spradling engaged in several instances of professional misconduct during both prosecutions.
Additionally, Spradling made several misrepresentations during the long-running investigations into her behavior.
From the opinion, at length:
During the disciplinary hearing, the respondent admitted that her sworn statement included misstatements. The hearing panel appreciates the respondent’s admission on cross-examination that her sworn statement includes misstatements. However, the respondent’s testimony that during the sworn statement she ‘misspoke,’ that she ‘was wrong,’ and that her ‘mistake was not asking to look at the file’ ring hollow when considering that the statement was made under oath, during a disciplinary investigation, and only two months after the Supreme Court overturned Chandler’s two premeditated murder convictions based on the respondent’s misconduct.
The full opinion — plus a brief dissent which recommended a lesser punishment — are below.
[image via Bourbon County Attorney’s Office]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]