RefAtty Case: Ted White Settlement

October 17, 2011

[Editor’s Note: Many Reference Attorneys are tracking cases of personal interest. Today, we begin adding the category, RefAtty Case to posts whose central focus is not necessarily research. Instead, these posts represent the legal stories that keep our colleagues awake at night. Of course, we’ll continue to include relevant research references.]

Every so often, a case comes along that gives us in the profession a moment of pause. When I read the story of this case, I had one of those moments.

The city of Lee’s Summit announced today that it will pay a $15.5 million settlement to Ted White, a businessman wrongly convicted of sexual misconduct.

. . . .

After five years in prison, White won a $16 million judgment when a federal jury decided that a Lee’s Summit detective conspired with White’s wife to get White convicted of child sexual abuse charges. The detective, who is no longer with the department, later married White’s former wife.

2011 WLNR 14565472

The docket for White’s lawsuit is available in the Western District of MO dockets, Docket No. 4:05CV00203.

And for court opinions related to White lawsuit:

Database: MO-CS-ALL or Missouri State and Related Federal on WestlawNext
Search: ti(white & mckinley) (13 docs)

In the 13 years this ordeal has been going, White has been through four trials and numerous appeals, he’s been a fugitive from justice, and spent five years in prison. All of this arose from what appears to be a highly suspect police investigation of White’s ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault by White against his daughter.

The detective investigating the charges was carrying on an affair with the wife of the suspect he was investigating. He told his chief of police about the affair, but was allowed to stay on the case. Only after White was convicted and imprisoned were he and his attorney told of the affair by a co-worker of his ex-wife. According to lawsuit filings, prosecutors had known about the affair but had failed to disclose it to the defense.

Ultimately White won a re-trial, which resulted in a hung jury. A third trial won him an acquittal.

Trial number four found White on the offensive. He sued the former detective, his ex-wife, and the city of Lee’s Summit, MO, the detective’s employer. The city agreed to indemnify the detective as part of an agreement to be dropped from the suit, but later reneged on that agreement when White won a $16 million jury verdict, arguing that a city ordinance prohibited the city from indemnifying an employee for a violation of someone’s civil rights. After White and his attorneys cried foul, and a federal judge threatened a crime fraud hearing, the city reached a settlement with White to pay him $15.5 million.

This case is an interesting look into many different aspects of the legal system, the good and the bad. It’s worth the read. The following research references will work on Westlaw.com or WestlawNext.

Other Research References

For court opinions from the criminal case:
Database: MO-CS or Missouri on WestlawNext
Search: ti(white) & sexual! (25 docs)

News articles:

From the Kansas City Star (Westlaw Database ID KCSTAR)
Search: “Ted White” (141 docs)

From the ALLNEWS database:
Search: “ted white” & “lee summit” (44 docs)