Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kansas: Correcting the record on one of Phill Kline's new hires

By Diane Silver

After an inquiry from this blog, the Johnson County District Attorney's office has changed it's description of the career of the new Domestic Violence Unit chief.

Originally, the office of Phill Kline reported that the new chief, Sue Carpenter, was "most recently" a managing partner at the Overland Park law firm of Tomes and Dvorak. In fact, Carpenter never held that position and was never a partner in the firm.

This is an issue because the competency of Kline's staff has been called into question by several people who have posted comments on this blog. Outgoing prosecutors from the district attorney's office have also complained about the qualifications of newly hired staff.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Jonathan Tomes, a partner in Tomes and Dvorak, said Carpenter worked for his firm from 2000 to 2004 and that her final job title was "senior associate."

After being asked about the discrepancy, Kline's Public Information Officer Brian Burgess said via email that Carpenter's title at Tomes and Dvorak was “chief counsel and associate partner.”

Tomes told In This Moment, "We didn’t have a setup where we were going to make anybody else partner. It was just Tomes and Dvorak. Certainly, if we were going to make anyone else partner, we would have made Sue one. She was overqualified."

Carpenter was in private practice by herself for the "last two years prior" to starting at the district attorney's office, Burgess said.

"The mistake is mine and was made while trying to put together a press release on short notice," Burgess said in his email.

Carpenter became section chief in late April after Kline fired her predecessor, Jacqie Spradling.

At the time Carpenter was touted in a press release from Kline's office that read (emphasis is mine):
Sue joins the staff with 15 years of experience as a prosecutor with the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, where her duties included child abuse prosecution, as well as sexual assault and drug cases. Sue has prosecuted numerous homicide cases and has extensive experience in domestic violence. In addition, she has 14 years of experience in private practice, most recently as a managing partner with the law firm of Tomes & Dvorak.

That press release was changed to reflect Burgess' version of Carpenter's titles on the office web site at about 8 this morning.

Since Carpenter was named to the domestic violence position, information came out about Carpenter's censure by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1991.

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