Friday, March 09, 2007

Fighting for prosecutor's rights

Janine Cox won in State v. Lampson, Appeal No. 96,155 (Kan. App. March 9, 2007)(unpublished), affirming Judge Innes' dismissal of felony misuse of public funds charges against the former Chautauqua County Attorney. Mr. Lampson had written some checks on the county attorney's trust fund that was to be used in the normal course of county attorney business. Mr. Lampson wrote some checks from the trust fund for computer work done in his private office, which spurred a KBI investigation and eventual felony charges. The issues was whether the computer work done was in the course of county attorney business. The district court dismissed the charges after preliminary hearing.

The COA read K.S.A. 21-3910, which prohibits use of public money "in a manner not authorized by law" to mean acts that have been expressly prohibited by statute or judicial interpretation. The COA noted that the Chautauqua County resolution allowed the county attorney to pay "operating expenses" and submit those expenses to the county commission, which can reject them. The COA held that this resolution anticipated circumstances where the county attorney would have spent money from the account that would later be rejected; but that did not make such spending expressly prohibited. As a result, the COA affirmed dismissal of charges.

[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on April 12, 2007]

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