Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, attorneys Sal Intagliata and Eli O’Brien have been named to the prestigious list of 2023 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers. Intagliata was honored by Super Lawyers for the tenth consecutive year, while O’Brien earned his third straight year of recognition as one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars” among attorneys under 40.

Only 5 percent of eligible attorneys are selected for the exclusive Super Lawyers list, while only 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys are selected as Rising Stars.

Sal Intagliata is a shareholder in the firm and has practiced law for more than 28 years. His career includes 24 years as a distinguished criminal defense attorney in private practice and four years as a Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney prosecuting cases in the Gangs/Violent Crimes Division.

Intagliata serves on the Kansas Judicial Council Criminal Law Advisory Committee and the Kansas Supreme Court Pretrial Justice Task Force. He is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. An active member of the Wichita Bar Association, he has served the WBA in various roles as vice president; Board of Governors member; and chair of the Criminal Practice Division.

Intagliata earned his bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from the University of Kansas, graduating with dual majors in political science and Spanish. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law and is a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College.

Eli O’Brien has been an associate with the firm since 2017, defending serious felony accusations and DUI/DWI cases across the state.

Prior to joining the firm, O’Brien was a trial attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office. Over the years as a public defender and private practice defense attorney, his jury trials continue to result in multiple acquittals.

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law and the National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University.

As Steve Mank was searching online for funeral details for fellow criminal defense attorney Richard Ney last week, he didn’t find any. But he did discover numerous accounts of what Ney accomplished in a storied legal career.

“It’s amazing when you Google his name what you see,” Mank said. “He’s involved in all these cases that everybody heard (of).”

Ney, who died of pancreatic cancer Nov. 15, had a number of firsts, such as starting the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office.

He was the first in Kansas to successfully introduce testimony given under hypnosis while winning an acquittal for Bill Butterworth, who was charged with killing three people in a 1987 murder case that captured the attention of Wichitans for weeks.

His office also was the first to successfully use the battered-woman defense in Sedgwick County. Several juries acquitted several women who killed boyfriends or spouses who had abused them.

Ney “really deserves recognition as a lion of the national criminal defense bar,” said criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat.

He noted that Ney “was one of the few lawyers in the U.S. credentialed to handle federal death penalty cases.”

With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Ney went to law school only to become a better journalist, according to an interview he did with the Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services. He graduated from Boston University School of Law and worked as an investigative reporter and editor before moving on to work in public defender’s offices in Illinois and Vermont.

He came to Wichita in 1984 to start one in Sedgwick County. Ney called it the Wild West for all its opportunity, though the office initially was not popular in the legal community since a lot of lawyers were used to getting those appointments and the pay that came with them.

He quickly got a reputation for fiercely defending his clients.

“You always knew you had to be prepared when you tried a case against Richard because he would be,” said District Attorney Marc Bennett. “He believed in the job he was doing. He was never phoning it in.”

That’s also what Ney taught a lot of young lawyers when they started out in the public defender’s office.

“There were just a whole bunch of really good lawyers that Rich trained,” said Steve Gradert, who was one of them. “Rich was demanding.”

No matter how heinous the crime someone was accused of, Gradert said, “He also wanted us to treat the client with . . . dignity and respect.”

And promptness, even if that person was incarcerated, he said.

“Nothing was to be treated casually,” said Carol Bacon, who worked for Ney as a young lawyer and went on to become a Sedgwick County District Court judge.

“Richard taught me discipline. Halfway wasn’t good enough. Getting by wasn’t good enough.”

Bacon said some people might look at a person accused of something horrific and say, “How can you represent this man?”

According to Ney, she said, “Well, how could you not?”

Brad Sylvester, chief public defender at the Sedgwick County Conflicts Office, worked for and with Ney through the years — they collaborated for one trial that he said established case law for how to handle minors in court — and became friends. He said it was Ney’s level of caring that set him apart.

“It was always like he was on a mission his whole life to represent people who could not afford it. He was just rabid about it,” Sylvester said. “He had a . . . tenacity for just doing everything he could for people.”

Though friends said Ney could be fun when not working — he especially loved traveling to see operas — Ney always seemed to be working. “It was just because in his mind he was just working all the time,” Monnat said.

Ney had high expectations of his team, too.

When Sylvester worked for Ney in the public defender’s office around 1990, he would take daily breaks to play chess in order to decompress from the stressful job. Ney would walk by Sylvester’s door and catch him.

“He’d go, ‘Hrmmph.’”

In the courtroom, Ney could be intimidating — to other lawyers and even to police and detectives. “He was kind of like a big, burly guy,” Sylvester said. “He was always a gruff guy, and people would be just scared of him.”

Bennett said Ney could be aggressive.

“He knew the law well. He knew how to argue it. . . . He had a big, booming voice. He was no wallflower, I’ll say that.”

Sylvester said as a fellow lawyer, it could be irritating to see how quickly Ney could think through something that was said in court and make a formal objection.

“Richard was the most amazing guy to give objections I’ve ever seen.”

He said it wasn’t simply what Ney would say but how he said it, such as his closing argument in one battered-woman’s syndrome case.

“It was the pauses that made it so impressive.”

Gradert said some prosecutors so loathed going up against Ney that they’d try to figure out potential conflicts of interest to get another lawyer assigned to a case.

As stern as Ney could be in court, Sylvester said he was like a marshmallow in “the tenderness he would exude with his children.” Ney and his wife, Judith, had six children.

For a time, Ney left Wichita to work in the federal public defender’s office in Hawaii.

By then, Gradert was working in the federal system, and someone called him to ask about hiring Ney. The person worried he might be a prima donna, only taking high-profile cases.

“He took them because he was the most skilled and qualified person in our office to do the job,” Gradert said. “Those kinds of cases were pretty high pressure.”

Monnat said he always admired Ney.

He said he remembers that Ney took vacation from his federal job to return to Wichita and help win freedom for Lisa Dunn after she spent eight years in prison for a crime spree that Ney contended her boyfriend forced her to be part of.

“I thought it was a great, great, honorable move by a criminal defense lawyer, way beyond the call of duty,” Monnat said.

Per Ney’s wishes, there will not be a service for him. However, his fellow attorneys have been memorializing him in their remembrances of his career, mentorships and friendships.

“The fact that that vital of a person is no longer with us is just sad,” Monnat said.

It’s also a disappointment for anyone who still might have needed his help.

As Mank said, “If I was in trouble, I would want somebody like Richard Ney to represent me.”

Criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, has been recognized again on the Top 100 List of Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers for 2023. He has been among the overall Top 100 of Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers for 18 years.

Practicing in Kansas and Nebraska for more than 45 years, Monnat has focused on high-profile criminal defense, white-collar criminal defense, appellate defense and bet-the-company litigation. His cases have attracted international media attention, including the defense and acquittal of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, the defense of an innocent man wrongly accused of being the notorious BTK, and acquittals and exonerations of his clients in shaken baby murder and other murder, sex and white-collar prosecutions.

“The Top 100 attorneys across Missouri and Kansas represent the best of the best — not only in criminal defense — but in every other practice area of law,” said Monnat. “I am honored to be included among this tremendous group of lawyers and particularly proud to stand with those in criminal defense who work to ensure the Constitutional rights of the accused are protected in all our courts.”

A graduate of California State University, Monnat earned a Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law and is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

Monnat is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Kansas Bar Foundation. He is a Life Member and past Board Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as a two-term past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Monnat also currently sits on the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association’s Board of Editors and is the Criminal Law Chair.

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the co-author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition.

(WICHITA, Kan.) – The annual survey by Best Lawyers has awarded Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, with five “Best Law Firms 2024” metropolitan rankings in the sectors of:

  • General Practice Criminal Defense
  • White-Collar Criminal Defense
  • Appellate Practice
  • DUI/DWI Defense
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation

“Each year we are humbled by the recognition and praise bestowed on our firm by clients and fellow members of the bar,” said Dan Monnat. “It is a privilege to protect the constitutional rights of those accused and ensure they receive the best possible defense.”

“Best Law Firms” rankings are compiled using evaluations by clients who are asked if they would refer others to the firm. Firms are ranked for their responsiveness, cost-effectiveness, and civility. Attorneys in similar practice areas are also surveyed, and rankings reflect this peer input, as well.

Celebrating its 38th year, Monnat & Spurrier was founded by criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier. The firm has gained a reputation for its successful 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 shareholder Sal Intagliata, and associates Eli O’Brien and Braxton Eck.