Independence Examiner, Saturday 09/21/02

WitbolsFeugen starts new fight with counselor

By James Dornbrook
The Examiner

Bob WitbolsFeugen has opened a new front in his battle with Jackson County officials over County Counselor Jane McQueeny's handling of an open records case.

WitbolsFeugen asked the Missouri Lawyers Disciplinary Counsel to investigate McQueeny, alleging conflict of interest and ethics violations.

McQueeny represented the Sheriff's Department in a case heard by the Jackson County Office of Human Relations and Citizen Complaints and also advised the commissioners on how they should handle the citizen's complaint.

WitbolsFeugen's complaint to the Disciplinary Counsel is partly based on McQueeny's actions in that case, which he believes constituted a conflict of interest.

He also wants a ruling on whether McQueeny knowingly misinformed a circuit judge, in a Sunshine lawsuit stemming from the OHRCC case, on the county's ability to pay fines imposed on the OHRCC commissioners.

WitbolsFeugen alleges the Jackson County code specifically states the county will pay judgments against county representatives and officials. He also alleges that McQueeny violated rules of candor by not revealing this to the court.

The Missouri Lawyers Disciplinary Counsel has not considered whether it will investigate the complaints.

McQueeny said the complaints were unfounded and that WitbolsFeugen is "a disgruntled person."

"He is trying to re-litigate a case that within the confines of our system he can't do anymore. He's continued to put fuel on a fire that refuses to go out," McQueeny said. "An appeal was the proper redress for him if he wasn't happy with the decision reached by the judge, but he chose not to do that."

WitbolsFeugen said an appeal was not possible.

"I didn't file an appeal be cause I ran out of money. We could have appealed, but it would have immediately cost us another $6,000. I felt an appeal would be an even longer and more costly process than the trial. She delayed this case for years, raising the cost for me. She's done it once, and I believed she would have done it again during an appeal," WitbolsFeugen said.

McQueeny denied ever using delay tactics to raise the cost of the trial.

"It is simply not true. He continues to use these kinds of tactics to prolong this and keep the case in the public's mind. If anyone got involved in delay tactics, it was his attorney," McQueeny said. "If (WitbolsFeugen) wants to file a bar complaint, he should have filed a complaint against his lawyer. His attorney made the decision to sue the individual members and not the commission."

McQueeny said it was incumbent upon the Plaintiffs' attorney to bring forward a settlement offer during the Sunshine lawsuit, but none was ever discussed.

"I'm really quite frustrated about this, because he had ample opportunity to address this in the court. I feel very sympathetic about what Mr. WitbolsFeugen has gone through, but I feel he is going to continue to be frustrated because things didn't go his way," McQueeny said.

"I feel sorry for (Witbols Feugen) and I wish he could find some peace and move forward with his life," she said. "When people file unfounded bar complaints, it starts to become personal. I really don't think this is in the best interests of the citizens of Jackson County."

McQueeny said she just wants to move forward and work on more positive actions for Jackson County and its citizens.

WitbolsFeugen said he also wants to move forward, but there has to be accountability in government.

"The personnel of this county need to be held accountable for their actions. Jane McQueeny ... needs to be held accountable for what she did," WitbolsFeugen said.

He said he hopes the disciplinary counsel determines that McQueeny "did not act ethically within the benevolent position she holds, nor did she act in the best interests of the citizens she represents. That conflict should not be tolerated and I hope the bar speaks clearly on that issue."

To reach James Dornbrook e-mail or call (816) 350-6322.
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