Kansas Supreme Court disbars Jacqie Spradling for ‘intolerable’ conduct during Dana Chandler trial
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday to disbar former Shawnee County prosecutor Jacqie Spradling for her conduct in a 2012 double homicide case, calling it an "intolerable pattern of deception."
The high court had been asked to determine the proper punishment for Spradling after the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys recommended she be disbarred for her conduct in two cases.
The supreme court found Spradling did not violate ethical standards in how she handled the 2016 case of Jacob Ewing, a Jackson County man who was convicted of rape and sodomy against two women.
But the 2012 conviction of Dana Chandler for the 2002 killing of her ex-husband and his fiancée was a different matter.
The court's ruling found that Spradling's "repeated patterns of misconduct in the Chandler trial clearly and convincingly" support the disciplinary board's recommendation for disbarment.
Spradling had been accused of falsely leading a jury to believe Chandler had violated a protection order allegedly obtained by her ex-husband, who was killed along with his fiancée.
A Topeka Police Department detective initially indicated the abuse order existed but later walked the comments back, though Spradling maintained its existence during closing arguments.
During proceedings before the Kansas Supreme Court, Spradling acknowledged the protection order had never been granted but the court "only obtained this admission from respondent after asking her dozens of questions."
"Respondent failed in her obligation to act as a minister of justice in her prosecution of Dana Chandler," the ruling said. "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."
The court also found that Spradling knowingly made other claims she could not reasonably believe were supported by evidence.
That includes Spradling's claim that Chandler learned of her ex-husband's engagement via a five-minute phone call, as well as claims Chandler returned to Denver via Nebraska after allegedly carrying out the crime, despite no evidence being admitted to substantiate those points.
The court also found Spradling "intentionally made false statements of material fact during the disciplinary investigation" regarding when she became aware her comments on the protection order were inaccurate.
But Spradling's conduct during the Ewing trial did not violate the rules of professional conduct, the court ruled.
The disciplinary panel alleged Spradling knowingly presented information not supported by the record. But the high court said some of those facts were in fact contained in the evidentiary record or that Spradling merely used poor phrasing.
"The fuller picture of the circumstances surrounding the Ewing trial, as presented by several witnesses before the hearing panel, convinces us that the panel's findings regarding respondent's conduct in that trial are not supported by clear and convincing evidence," the ruling said.
Justice Evelyn Wilson disagreed with the majority's conclusion, arguing Spradling did commit mistakes but said they did not merit disbarment.
"I believe we have inadequately appreciated the reasons Spradling's mistakes happened, and I am convinced we have punished too harshly," Wilson wrote in her dissent.
The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Chandler's conviction in 2018 and ordered a new trial, which is ongoing and scheduled to begin later this year.
The Kansas Court of Appeals also tossed out Ewing's conviction in 2018; he has since accepted a plea deal in the case.
An attorney for Spradling did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 443-979-6100.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Prosecutor Jacqie Spradling disbarred for Dana Chandler trial conduct