The showdown in court between Lee’s Summit and its former prosecutor is now on hold.
A trial scheduled to begin Feb. 19 between the city and Rachel Townsend Brown has been delayed after attorneys for both parties met with circuit judge Robert Schieber the morning of the scheduled trial date.
Brown filed an unlawful retaliation suit against the city in 2011.
The case was to go before circuit judge Charles McKenzie, but McKenzie recused himself from the case according to Daniel Boatwright, an attorney representing the city as it defends itself against Townsend Brown’s accusations that she was unlawfully retaliated against and fired after levying a sexual harassment charge against City Attorney Teresa Williams.
McKenzie, a Division 13 judge, was scheduled to oversee the case in Division 16 of the Jackson County Circuit Court, but now the case will go before Schieber, a Division 15 judge.
“Judge McKenzie recused himself,” Boatwright said via telephone Feb. 14. “There was an order of recusal out and I think that’s the only public statement on it. It’s not clear whether it’s going to continue to go with the change in judge, but there has been a change in judge, so it’s a chance it won’t go.”
Brown’s attorney, Kirk Holman, didn’t return repeated phone calls from the Journal seeking comment.
As of the Journal’s press time, no new trial date was posted on Casenet, a state database for the court system.
Townsend Brown, a former city prosecutor, filed suit in November of 2011 against the city of Lee’s Summit, Williams – her supervisor – and City Manager Stephen Arbo after Townsend Brown complained about a sexually-charged birthday card that was passed around the office.
The complaint, she contends, led to her losing a job she had held since 1999.
According to court documents, on Dec. 15, 2010, Townsend sent a memo to Arbo complaining about a sexually-charged birthday card Williams had circulated around the office in early December of that year. Townsend Brown accused Williams of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment in the complaint.
Townsend Brown was later suspended without pay as the city looked into her claims and eventually was escorted from the building by Human Resources Manager Barbara Moberg.