Jury rules against Prairie Village councilman who let homeless friend stay in City Hall

10/10/2013 12:18 PM

10/10/2013 5:23 PM

A Johnson County jury has concluded that Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison engaged in misconduct in office when he let a homeless friend stay in City Hall a year ago.

That advisory finding of the 12-person jury in the three-day civil trial, concluded Wednesday, now goes to District Judge David W. Hauber. He can factor in that advisory verdict in deciding whether Morrison should remain on the City Council. His decision is expected within a week.

Ousters from public office stemming from civil cases are rare in Kansas.

The jury found Morrison willfully engaged in misconduct while in office and willfully neglected to perform his council duties.

But the jurors also found Morrison had not violated state laws against official misconduct, trespassing and theft to a degree that reached “moral turpitude.”

The case sprang from revelations late last year that he had secretly allowed a homeless friend into City Hall for four nights.

Morrison conceded during the trial that he showed poor judgment. He apologized, saying he was only trying to help a friend. He had also apologized to the council last November.

Morrison could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Tom Bath, did not return a phone call Thursday. Kristi Bergeron, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Howe, had no comment.

The homeless man, Kelley Malone, didn’t damage or steal anything. But court records showed that he made long-distance phone calls that cost the city less than $10. Morrison reimbursed the city for the calls. Mayor Ronald L. Shaffer pushed the City Council to support an ouster of Morrison.

The council discussed the issue in private and then voted publicly 12-1 late last year to file an ouster complaint with the Johnson County district attorney’s office.

Howe pursued a civil misconduct case after reviewing the complaint.

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