By Layla Mustafa
TOPEKA, KA – In Thursday’s portion of weeklong proceedings here by the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys involving former Shawnee County Deputy DA Jacqie Spradling, the now-Bourbon County DA testified—sometimes teary-eyed—about alleged misconduct during two high-profile cases.
Both of these cases were later overturned following the discovery that Spradling relied on claims made without sufficient supporting evidence.
In 2012, Spradling prosecuted and convicted Dana Chandler for the 2002 killings of Chandler’s ex-husband and fiancée. Claims against Spradling allege that she was able to do so by making misleading claims and presenting false evidence.
Spradling was also accused of similar misconduct in the 2017 trial of Jacob Ewing. Spradling was able to win a conviction for two counts of rape and four counts of criminal sodomy. Both defendants face upcoming retrial.
During an initial examination conducted by Spradling’s attorney—LJ Letterman—Spradling admitted to having made various mistakes, but denied that any of them were necessarily intentional.
One of the most damning pieces of evidence found against Spradling during her prosecution of the Chandler case was her incorrect declaration that the victim had a protection from abuse (PFA) order. There was never any PFA filed against Chandler.
Spradling claimed that PFA order is very commonly used interchangeably with the term “protection orders” and she relied on statements made by investigators rather than conducting her own research—admittedly an error, as she stated, “I will never utter the words PFA again.”
In addition to this it was found that many of her arguments presented in the Chandler case were based on detective theories on evidence from phone calls to Chandler’s driving route. These theories which Spradling presented in 2012 were based on circumstantial evidence, as admitted by a detective earlier in the week.
When asked by DDA Matt Vogelsburg if Spradling felt that her reliance on the theories put forward by investigators in the Chandler case was a mistake, Spradling responded that she didn’t know.
Spradling maintained that, at the time, she had reasonable basis to believe the claims made against the defendants. Spradling, however, made sure to orally recognize the decisions made by the courts on her alleged errors.
Following various questions on both cases, Spradling responded with, “I believed the record was sufficient…the Court of Appeals tells me I’m wrong so therefore I’m wrong,” or, “The Supreme Court tells me I’m wrong, so I accept their conclusion.”
During the afternoon session of the hearing, members of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys hearing panel questioned Spradling about the alleged misconduct.
A climactic moment of the hearing was drawn from panel member Darcy Williamson, after having asked Spradling if there was anything she wanted panel members to know in their consideration of the alleged malpractice.
Through teary eyes Spradling declared, “My personality includes a protectiveness, a loyalty, and a belief in justice. No prosecutor wants their case overturned. When it happens, every one of us, including me, feels bad. When these cases were overturned, it was very difficult because I had let the system down, I had let the victims down and I had denied the defendants a fair trial.”
Williamson followed by asking Spradling if she hoped to rally from this, to which Spradling replied, “I’m a stubborn cuss, rally is my goal.”
Throughout the questioning, panel members made multiple comments on Spradling’s stellar history as a prosecutor.
At one point, John Larson, the panel chair said, “One overriding issue that I can definitely take from everything I have listened to this week is that you are a very good and diligent officer. You understand the rules of evidence…and I was very happy to hear you say that you denied the defendant a fair trial.”
His comment on her understanding of the rules of evidence appeared in stark contrast to the alleged misconduct Spradling was accused of in the hearing.
Panel questions concluded with Spradling admitting to pushing the rules of evidence in Chandler’s case farther than she should have done.
If the panel determines a violation occurred the panel will recommend various types of disciplinary action to be administered. Punishment could include informal admonition, censure, suspension, or disbarment.
Layla Mustafa is a recent graduate from UC Davis. She is currently applying to law school and living in the Bay Area.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: