Government & Politics

April 30, 2014

KC Council is poised to settle more lawsuits involving assistant city prosecutors

The City Council on Thursday will vote to settle two more lawsuits related to a 2011 reorganization of the municipal prosecutor’s office. Together, the two lawsuits add up to $448,000. That’s on top of $1.04 million to settle four previous cases, and two more cases are pending.

The costs of settling eight lawsuits related to a 2011 reorganization of the Kansas City municipal prosecutor’s office continue to mount.

The City Council will vote Thursday to resolve a lawsuit from attorney Abby Mueller for $248,000 and another lawsuit from attorney Sam Buccero for $200,000. That’s on top of $1,040,000 authorized earlier this year to settle four previous lawsuits. Two more cases are pending.

The eight lawsuits stem from a decision to convert the Kansas City prosecutor’s office from 16 part-time prosecutors to eight full-time prosecutors. City officials have defended that decision as a way to make the department more professional and efficient as the Municipal Court switched to a fully computerized, paperless system.

But another result was eight lawsuits from attorneys who had worked for years or even decades as part-time prosecutors for the city. They all applied for the new full-time jobs but were not selected, and they alleged age, gender and/or race discrimination because several younger, less experienced attorneys were hired.

In fact sheets explaining the settlements, the city attorney’s office noted that the city could be found to have considered Mueller’s age as a factor in its hiring decision. The fact sheet did note, however, that a year after the city did not hire Mueller, she applied for a different assistant prosecutor position and was hired.

The fact sheet on Buccero noted that he was a very popular member of the prosecutor’s office, both among co-workers and judges, but was passed over for a full-time job. The city attorney’s office determined the city could be found to have considered his age and gender as a factor in its hiring decision.

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