BARBER COUNTY, Kan. – KSN has obtained body cam footage of the moments leading up to and after the night Steven Myers was shot and killed by a Barber County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Kristina Myers, Myers’ widow says she was not given any warning before the release of the video.

“You know I could have been in the living room watching TV and it could have just come on. No one notified us that they had released it,” says Myers.

It also comes as a shock to her and the family’s legal counsel.

Michael Kuckleman, counsel for the family, “We don’t know why it was released. Up until yesterday the sheriff had been arguing that it was protected under the exception for criminal investigation.”

Attorney Jeff Jordan, who is representing Sheriff Lonnie Small of the Barber County Sheriff’s Office, says they released the footage as part of Kansas Open Records Act. He says he cannot comment on the content of the video. Myers’s family are now pressing for more footage.

Kuckelman says, “We don’t know how many are available. What we do know is they have released a dash and a body cam for 3 of the four officers who were there that night. The 4th officer they haven’t released anything and the fourth officer just happens to be the shooter.”

Myers says, “We are trying to stay strong, trying to stick together and help the kids get through the Christmas holiday without too much of a hiccup.”

KSN sought legal counsel from defense attorney Dan Monnat to see if it is common in Kansas for a judge to order the release of the video, like what was done in this case, and what should be expected when the public requests body cam footage from police.

Monnat says, “Well, I don’t think it is common, but I think it ought to be common because transparency is exactly what we should have in a free country.”

A hearing will take place Friday at Barber County District Court. Both the sheriff and undersheriff have been subpoenaed to take the stand. Attorneys representing the family say the purpose of the hearing is to determine if there have been any violations of the Kansas Open Records Act.

See full video at KSN.com

Eli O’Brien has joined Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered as an associate attorney. His primary practice will focus on the defense of serious felony accusations.

O’Brien has been an attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office since 2015, providing counsel and trial advocacy for indigent persons accused of felony crimes.

“We’re delighted to have Eli join the firm as he will be a welcome addition to our ever-expanding criminal defense practice,” said Dan Monnat, President of the firm. “We are seeing a significant influx of criminal defense matters, at all levels of severity from misdemeanors to serious felony cases. Eli tried several difficult jury trials while at the Public Defender’s Office, and that broad experience will serve our client base particularly well.”

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University. He is a member of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Founded in 1985 by litigator Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier, Monnat & Spurrier has built an international reputation for criminal defense and appellate defense. In addition to Monnat, Spurrier and O’Brien, the firm includes two former prosecutors, Trevor Riddle and Sal Intagliata, associate attorney Matt Gorney, and legal research and writing specialist Kathryn Stevenson.

In a rare move, a federal judge has thrown out a defendant’s conviction on drug charges after ruling that the prosecutor had interfered with his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

In a blistering decision handed down Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found that the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead, had “substantially interfered with a defense witness’s decision to testify” in the case.

According to Robinson’s order, Morehead told the witness’s attorney that if the witness “got in her way, she would get in his way” in a separate case in which he was the defendant. That, said Robinson, went beyond the bounds of a straightforward perjury warning.

“While a limited warning of consequences for committing perjury is proper, a warning of consequences for simply taking the stand crosses the boundary line into improper witness interference,” Robinson ruled.

She added that Morehead “should have had a heightened awareness of the bounds of fair play and the gravity of witness interference” because she was accused of witness intimidation in another, highly publicized case.

The defendant in that case, Lamonte McIntyre, was exonerated in October after serving 23 years for two murders he did not commit. McIntyre’s attorneys had accused Morehead, who was a Wyandotte County prosecutor when she tried the case, of threatening to bring contempt charges against a witness and to have her children taken away if she refused to testify against McIntyre.

Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, where Morehead has been a federal prosecutor for the last 15 years, declined to comment on Robinson’s decision.

The defendant in the case, Gregory Orozco, was charged with drug trafficking and firearm offenses. The issue of Morehead’s interference arose when Orozco proposed to call a witness to rebut the testimony of one of the government’s chief witnesses.

Orozco’s witness was himself awaiting trial on federal drug charges, and Robinson ruled that Morehead could ask him when he took the stand whether he was seeking favorable treatment in his case in return for testifying. But she also told Morehead that she couldn’t ask him about the underlying circumstances of his case because that would infringe on his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

But the witness decided not to testify on Orozco’s behalf after Morehead relayed the warning to his attorney and also told her that she knew which prosecutor in Missouri was handling his indictment. Orozco then felt compelled to take the witness stand himself, which allowed Morehead to cross-examine him about his lengthy criminal record.

Had Orozco not felt compelled to testify, the jury wouldn’t have heard about the extent or nature of his prior convictions, Robinson wrote. “The Court thus concludes that AUSA Morehead’s prosecutorial misconduct, in violating Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right, prejudiced the Defendant.”

James Campbell, Orozco’s attorney, declined to comment other than to say that Robinson’s decision “speaks for itself.”

Dan Monnat, a Wichita attorney who has practiced law for 41 years, called Robinson’s ruling “a brave and wise decision.”

“Prosecutors wield tremendous power, but the Bill of Rights is a check on that power and the Bill of Rights prevents a prosecutor from denying an accused the witness needed for a fair trial by the prosecutor threatening and intimidating the defense witnesses,” said Monnat, who was not involved in the Orozco case.

Monnat said he has seen judges dismiss cases because of prosecutorial misconduct, “but not this particular kind of prosecutorial misconduct.”

He added: “Judges work with federal prosecutors every day and judges often work with the same federal prosecutors every day. It always has to be difficult for a judge to say to a prosecutor the judge regularly sees, ‘You committed misconduct and this case is going to be dismissed forever because of that misconduct.’ That’s why I say it’s a brave and wise decision.”

Tom Bradshaw, a veteran criminal lawyer in Kansas City, said that most people don’t understand how difficult it is to present a defense in a federal criminal prosecution.
Unlike in civil cases, in federal criminal cases attorneys can’t depose witnesses to determine what they plan to testify about. And the government isn’t required, prior to trial, to answer interrogatories, or questions, presented by the other side.

“So any interference with the defendant’s presentation of evidence is extremely serious and, as Judge Robinson pointed out, can be harmful to the entire system of criminal justice,” Bradshaw said.

Hear the full story at KCUR.org

WICHITA — Drivers that were issued tickets during a now-suspended Wichita Police camera-based traffic enforcement pilot program, must pay their fines.

Wichita Police announced it ended the pilot program early, leaving some asking if the program is legal and if they have to pay their citations.

Timothy Wier was hit with a $110 fine after he was caught making a left turn into the outside lane at 2nd and Washington in Old Town. To his surprise, it wasn’t a Wichita police officer on patrol that spotted his traffic infraction. It was someone sitting in an office, blocks away, looking for bad drivers on the Old Town security camera system.

Wier was one of more than 100 people caught on camera breaking traffic laws over the last few week as part of the camera-based traffic enforcement pilot program, a program that the city announced it’s put an early stop to.

Police announced it’d been using the 70-camera system to write traffic citations. Someone monitoring the cameras would call down to an officer. Then, an officer would pull over the driver in question and possibly issue a ticket.

“For $750,000, I think that they could use them a little bit better than trying to catch people turning left,” Wier said.

“I think it needs to be a one-on-one with a police officer saying, “I caught you speeding’ and ‘I caught you doing an illegal u-turn. I’m going to give you a ticket,'” Wichita resident, Mark Rider said.

Some people are wondering if the system is legal, so we asked attorney Dan Monnat to weigh in.

“Now, we may not like living in a high-tech world of “big brother-like” recordation of our every public action, but that doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional,” Monnat said.

Monnat says we have no reasonable expectation of privacy while driving in public.

“Just because something is constitutional doesn’t mean public officials have to encourage or foster it,” Monnat said.

Wichita police tell KAKE News even though the pilot program is suspended, the drivers that received tickets still have to pay up.

Police and the city manager say they will meet to discuss the results of the program and decide if it’ll be used to write traffic tickets anymore. The cameras are still being used for safety purposes.

See full story at KAKE.com

Wichita police are using 97 cameras to monitor the Old Town area for safety. Now, some of those cameras are being used for traffic enforcement.

The intersections police are monitoring include 1st and Washington, 2nd and Washington, and 3rd and Mead.

“The idea is to improve traffic safety downtown, to enhance enforcement efforts and raise public awareness,” said Sgt. Kelly O’Brien, Wichita Police Department.

Police said they are working the traffic enforcement with the video two hours at a time. In the last two-hour block of time, officers wrote 52 tickets based on 55 violations.

“It has made a difference in the traffic flow, the amount of violations have decreased as a general observation this morning,” said O’Brien.

And, while officers maintain it’s for safety, some who got a ticket with the video enforcement said they were not expecting to be caught on video.

“Two weeks ago, on my way to work I was turning left on Washington, and I got a ticket for not turning into the nearest lane,” said Madison Bauer, who works in Old Town. “They said they saw it on the camera..”

Madison said her ticket will cost her $105, and she wonders if it’s legal.

Officers running the enforcement said they have run it all through the city legal department.

“It’s not our goal to be big brother watching everyone,” said Sgt. O’Brien. “We want to make Old Town safe. We’ve had an increase in accidents at some of the intersections where we now have cameras.”

Sgt. O’Brien said they have commissioned officers watching the cameras. And, when they see a violation they radio an officer to pull the driver over.

The video is kept in the system for 400 days.

Sgt. O’Brian said they will not go back through old video to look for violations when the camera system is not being staffed. It’s not a 24/7 proposition.

“We’re just trying to do an enforcement to keep the streets safe,” said O’Brien.

See the full video at KSN.com

(WICHITA, Kan.) – Best Law Firms 2018 has awarded Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, three Tier 1 Rankings in the areas of General Practice Criminal Defense, White-Collar Criminal Defense, and Appellate Practice. The Best Law Firms rankings are based on a national assessment of law firms produced jointly by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers.

Complete rankings are online at www.usnews.com/bestlawfirms.

Rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes client evaluations, peer review by leading attorneys in their practice areas, and Best Lawyers’ independent analysis of the firms. Clients were asked to address areas such as expertise, responsiveness, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm.

Defense attorney Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier founded Monnat & Spurrier in 1985. The firm has gained an international reputation for its defense of such high-profile clients as late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller; the unfortunate innocent person whose home was mistakenly raided by police as being that of serial killer BTK; and most recently, the Western Kansas man wrongly accused of murdering a four-year-old child by cruelly beating or shaking her.

In addition to Monnat and Spurrier, the firm includes shareholders Trevor Riddle and Sal Intagliata, and associates Kathryn Stevenson and Matt Gorney.

WICHITA, Kan. – The Champion, a monthly publication of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – features in its latest issue an article on appellate advocacy co-authored by Dan Monnat, of Wichita’s Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, and Paige A. Nichols, an assistant federal public defender in Lawrence, Kan. The article, “From Cover to Content: Ten 21st Century Tips for Effective Appellate Briefing,” is a fresh look at the most effective way to write and present appellate briefs. A copy of the article can be downloaded here.

“Appellate briefs are about more than sound legal arguments, they are about sound writing, visually attractive presentation, and paying microscopic attention to every detail of the Court’s rules,” says Monnat, who has been a criminal-defense and appellate-defense lawyer for more than 40 years. “We’ve all heard the adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ But justices are human and the reality is that a visually attractive and well-packaged document is going to get a better, more thorough read than one that is presented in bad format, font or design.

“The way a brief looks has a subliminal effect on the person reading it, and it is a critically important effect,” says Monnat, who has argued more than 100 appellate cases over the years.

“And remember,” says Monnat, “it’s a brave new world. We practice law now in a world of digital readers and hard-copy readers. We need to accommodate both and take thoughtful advantage of such 21st century enhancements as graphics, images, and embedded sound and video clips.”

Monnat is a past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a former board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.

Nichols, a former staff attorney with Monnat & Spurrier, was associated with the firm for more than 20 years, working with its successful appellate and motion practice. Nichols, who helped found the Midwest Innocence Project, religiously reads every brief in every Tenth Circuit criminal appeal. She contributes to the Federal Public Defender’s blog and is the former host of Monnat & Spurrier’s Just In Case podcast, an analysis of criminal law cases just-in from the Kansas Appellate Courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. Episodes of the podcast are posted at www.Monnat.com/podcast

Monnat and Nichols have co-authored numerous articles that have appeared in state and national legal journals for more than two decades.

Nichols received her J.D. in 1993 from Northeastern University in Boston and an LL.M. in criminal law in 2002 from the University of Missouri–Kansas City. She lectures frequently and has written extensively about legal writing, ethics, appellate practice, and criminal law.

Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier founded Monnat & Spurrier in 1985. The firm has six attorneys and has earned an international reputation for its defense of high-profile clients accused of white-collar and violent crimes.

WICHITA, Kan. – Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defense 2017 has named Dan Monnat of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, one of the world’s leading business crime defense attorneys for both corporations and individuals. The publication is a strategic research partner of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law.

Monnat has practiced in Kansas for more than 40 years, handling criminal and white-collar criminal cases that have attracted worldwide attention. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, and the Litigation Counsel of America.

“It is an honor to be recognized among this exemplary group of attorneys worldwide,” Monnat said. “Many of the cases we handle in America’s heartland resonate globally. Those cases can have a potential impact on white-collar criminal defense strategies worldwide.”

A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition. From 2007 – 2011, Monnat served on the Kansas Sentencing Commission as a Governor’s appointee. He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Justice’ Board of Editors.

Monnat served as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board of Directors from 1996 – 2004, and is a two-term past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

SALINE COUNTY, Kan. – A video of a Saline County traffic stop has gone viral.

Since that video was posted, it has been viewed more than seven million times. Click here for link to video.

It shows the Saline County deputy asking the driver and passenger of the car for their license and identification, which they are heard telling the deputy they don’t need to produce.

The video was shot by Colorado resident Tia Jones, while she and her husband, Jonathan Ayers, are sitting in the car talking with the deputy.

“She’s a traveler too, she doesn’t need any identification,” said Ayers.

The video was shot on Sept. 2, when Jones and Ayers were pulled over on I-70 in Saline County.

“I still need to see your driver’s license,” said the Saline County deputy. “No you don’t,” replied Ayers.

KSN caught up with both Ayers and Jones Wednesday evening in Salina.

“They came to the passenger’s side, instead of the driver’s side, they proceeded to ask us for our licenses. I asked him where the crime was, he didn’t answer my question,” said Ayers.

In the video, you can hear the deputy saying he pulled them over for a lane change violation.

“Like I said, I observed traffic infractions,” said the Saline County deputy.

The deputy continues to ask both Ayers and Jones for identification.

“Does anyone have any form of identification at all?” said the Saline County deputy. “Identification is for a driver, not a traveler,” said Ayers.

It’s a video that Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan has watched.

“We are expecting to approach the vehicle, get an identification from the driver and find out what their situation is and see if they are aware of the infraction,” said Sheriff Soldan.

The more than 20-minute video ends when the police ultimately break out the passenger side window and arrest Jones and Ayers.

So what is the law and your rights as a driver?

KSN took those questions to attorney Dan Monnat.

“The laws of Kansas of course require every person operating a motor vehicle possess a valid driver’s license and display it upon demand by a law enforcement officer,” said Monnat.

Monnat also points to a driver’s rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, something that is spelled out in the Kansas and Federal Constitution.

After watching the video, Monnat says one question comes to mind.

“Was the officer’s use of force reasonable or overkill, where the only act being investigated was an unsafe lane change,” said Monnat.

Ayers was arrested for interference with law enforcement and obstruction.

Jones is also facing interference with law enforcement and misdemeanor obstruction charges.

See full story at KSN.com

WICHITA, Kan. More than a week since the remains of a 3-year-old boy were found inside a concrete structure in a south Wichita home, many questions surround the case.

Wichita police positively identified Evan Brewer’s remains through DNA this week, but have not made any arrests in this case and no charges have been filed.

We know Evan lived with his mother and her boyfriend in the home where police found his remains. The two arrested on charges related to the custody battle for Evan, but when it comes to his death, there’s no indication on when an arrest could be made.

“Likely there’s an autopsy involved here to determine whether or not the child died of natural causes or criminal means,” attorney Dan Monnat says.

Monnat says those results can take awhile and could point investigators in a different direction when determining who put Evan in the concrete structure.

“Generally, there are such crimes as failure to report the death of a child or improperly disposing of a body. But I suspect that in this case, at this time, law enforcement officers are focused on much more serious charges,” Monnat says.

If police make an arrest in Evan’s death, Monnat says there’s no knowing how long it will take investigators to present the case to the Sedgwick County district attorney.

See the full interview at KWCH.com