Legal Ethics

Ruling Leaves Prosecutors with No Evidence to Prosecute Lawyer Accused of Killing Law Partner

A Kansas City lawyer accused of killing his law partner has obtained a favorable appeals ruling that leaves prosecutors without any evidence to prosecute him.

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District has refused to issue a writ of prohibition blocking a trial judge who tossed all of the evidence against Richard Buchli. The tossed evidence was a sanction for discovery abuses by prosecutors in Jackson County, Mo.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a written statement that the ruling is “a de factor dismissal of the case,” the Kansas City Star reports.

Buchli’s original 2002 conviction was overturned because of the state’s failure to turn over evidence, but prosecutors continued to withhold evidence as the retrial was pending, the appeals court said. At a show-cause hearing held to determine whether sanctions should be imposed, the state admitted it still had not determined which of 190 previously disclosed witnesses it planned to call at trial and did not know what evidence it had it its possession, according to the decision (PDF).

“The expansive and egregious history of the violations of the mandatory rules of discovery is indisputable,” the appeals court said.

Buchli was accused of murder in the 2000 beating death of his law partner, Richard Armitage, at their law offices in downtown Kansas City. He has been free on bond since February 2008, the Kansas City Star says.

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