Legal Ethics

Ex-Lawyer Seeks to Regain His Law License After His Murder Conviction Is Overturned

A former Kansas City lawyer who says he was wrongly convicted in the beating death of his law partner is seeking to regain his law license.

Richard Buchli was disbarred in 2005 because of his conviction in 2002 for the murder of his law partner, Richard Armitage. The conviction has been overturned because of discovery violations, and Buchli is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to set aside the disbarment, the Kansas City Star reports.

In court documents, Buchli says he “needs to be able to work at full capacity in his chosen profession to be able to adequately support his needs and assure that he does not simply become a burden on our society.”

Prosecutors in Jackson County, Mo., wanted to retry Buchli after his conviction was overturned for the state’s failure to produce all of the evidence. As a new trial was pending, a judge ruled that prosecutors still had not complied with discovery obligations and threw out all of the evidence. “The judiciary cannot wait while the state dawdles,” Judge Roger Prokes wrote in his ruling.

Prosecutors had argued blood splatters on Buchli’s clothing proved his guilt, while the defense said it showed he had tried to revive his partner. Evidence withheld included a daylong surveillance tape that would have shown Buchli would have little time to murder his law partner, clean up and go to lunch, according to his lawyers.

After an appeals court refused to disturb Prokes’ ruling, prosecutors dropped the charges in May, saying they had no choice. They are still working on the case, however.

Armitage’s widow, Kathy Armitage, opposes Buchli’s quest to regain his license. “There’s no way in hell he should become a lawyer again,” she told the Kansas City Star.

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