Nothing worse than a bad prosecutor! They are the most powerful people in the system, and at ALL times should be honest and fair … not try to cover for bad cops! I know because I enjoyed 5 years as a prosecutor.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the law licenses of two former St. Louis prosecutors for covering up a police beating of a handcuffed suspect in 2014.
In a unanimous opinion, the court suspended Katherine Anne “Katie” Dierdorf and Ambry Schuessler. Dierdorf cannot apply for reinstatement for three years. Schuessler will be suspended for at least two years.
The court’s ruling cited “the severity of Ms. Dierdorf’s misconduct as a result of her dishonesty and instruction of others to conceal information about the incident” and Schuessler’s “repeated dishonesty during and interference with the federal prosecution of the police detective” in their decision.
The incident that started it all was the beating of a handcuffed suspect, Michael Waller, by then-St. Louis police Officer Thomas A. Carroll on July 22, 2014.
Carroll’s daughter’s car had been broken into, and Waller was found with her stolen credit card. Waller said he had found the card.
The next morning, another prosecutor and Carroll’s close friend, Bliss Barber Worrell, told Dierdorf and an intern that Carroll had beaten Waller, the opinion says. Dierdorf did not report the incident to supervisors.
Carroll described the beating to Worrell and Schuessler by speakerphone later that morning, saying he punched and kicked Waller, hit him with a chair and stuck his gun in Waller’s mouth, the opinion says. Schuessler responded with what the court called a “racist and homophobic comment about the suspect’s assault,” bringing laughter from Carroll and Worrell.
Schuessler and another prosecutor, Lauren Collins, learned Waller had been charged with a felony for fleeing custody, and became concerned that he could go to jail for a crime he did not commit, the opinion says. A reluctant Schuessler went with Collins to a supervisor, the opinion says, telling that supervisor that Worrell might have filed false charges.
When called in front of supervisors, Dierdorf withheld some of what she knew about the incident, the opinion says, then told Schuessler, “I told them I don’t know anything. You don’t tell them you know anything either.” Schuessler failed to tell supervisors that she heard Carroll describe the assault, and failed to tell them that he said he used a gun.
The next day, Schuessler told police internal affairs investigators that she’d only heard Worrell’s half of the July 23 call, failing to tell them that Carroll was on speakerphone.
Dierdorf resigned July 28 rather than face termination. She was interviewed twice by the FBI and a federal prosecutor, Hal Goldsmith. It wasn’t until the second interview that she admitted knowing about the beating on the morning of July 23, describing the incident to others, overhearing a phone call between Worrell and Carroll about the investigation and lying to supervisors about when she learned about the assault.
The court said that prosecutors “are held to a higher standard given the nature of their work to protect the public.” Dierdorf’s conduct undermined the public’s confidence in Missouri prosecutors, and her “repeated dishonesty … shows a pattern of protecting herself and her friends over the duties she assumed when she became an assistant circuit attorney,” the opinion says.
As a result of the federal investigation, Carroll got 52 months in prison; Worrell was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 140 hours of community service.
The opinion rejects a disciplinary hearing board’s recommendation of a reprimand for each and supports the suspension requested by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates lawyer misconduct.
The panel, formed to hold a hearing and issue recommendations, dismissed the case against Caroline Anne Rutledge, a former intern. Rutledge’s attorneys and attorneys for the disciplinary counsel agreed with that recommendation. Rutledge was not a lawyer at the time of the incident, and her filings say she did not lie but could have been “forthcoming.” Her lawyer, Maurice Graham, previously told the Post-Dispatch that there was an unprofessional culture in the office.
Rutledge was a lawyer in St. Louis County family court until January, and now works for a nonprofit, a court spokeswoman said. Dierdorf is a public defender in Denver, Colorado. Schuessler had been working for a Clayton law firm.
Waller won a a $300,000 settlement over the incident, but recently died, his lawyer said.