filed against prosecutor
The father of an assault victim is filing an ethics complaint
against Platte County Prosecutor Tammy Glick.
Jim Soendker, a resident of the Parkville area, claims
Glick acted negligently by apparently not opposing a probation
release for the man convicted of assaulting Soendker's
son two years ago.
Soendker also says Glick was negligent by not notifying
the Soendker family that an attorney for his son's assailant,
Chase Verdoorn, had filed a notice for the early probation
In 2000, Verdoorn was convicted of assaulting Jim Soendker's
son, Steve, in Platte City. Both were 17 at the time of
the assault. Part of Verdoorn's sentencing included a
two year probation period. He was sentenced in Platte
County Circuit Court Division V by Judge Gary Witt.
Soendker said he put his complaint in the mail last Thursday,
sending it to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel
The OCDC was established by the Supreme Court to investigate
ethical complaints against lawyers. The office is funded
by Missouri attorney enrollment fees into The Missouri
In his complaint, Soendker says Glick "did not notify
our son of a motion to release his assailant from a two-year
probation six months early. In addition, she never requested
a hearing or formulated an objection on the motion. It
took over six months for our son and our family to learn
of the prosecutor's actions. And that was only because
the defendant was (allegedly) involved in a criminal act
in March of this year."
The Verdoorn assault case in 2000 had been prosecuted
by the office of former prosecutor Todd Graves, who now
serves as U.S. Attorney. Glick was appointed interim prosecutor
last fall after Graves left to accept his federal appointment.
Glick denies any negligence or misconduct on her part.
She said once a probation is released, the record is sealed,
and determining exactly how the probation release was
granted is difficult.
She said it's possible Judge Witt released Verdoorn from
probation without a hearing.
"In a misdemeanor case, it's totally the judge's
discretion. They don't always hold hearings for them,"
Glick said, indicating it's possible the probation release
was granted by the judge in his chambers and not in the
Judge Witt said he is prohibited from making comment
because the probation is closed and the case file is closed.
He said he could not comment on whether a hearing on the
early probation release request was held.
"I can't comment on actions like that," Witt
told The Landmark this week.
Glick said she cannot determine if a hearing on the matter
"It doesn't look like we had any notice at all.
We have no notice of it being set for a hearing. It looks
like somebody had filed the motion and it got added to
a docket," Glick said.
Glick said she can find no assistants in her office who
recall a hearing being held in the matter. She said Platte
County Circuit Clerk Sandy Dowd had told her that she
was in the courtroom when the matter came up and that
it was objected to by an assistant prosecutor and approved
by the judge over the objection by the prosecutor's office.
But again, Glick said she could find no assistant currently
on her staff who remembers the hearing and there is no
entry written by an assistant prosecutor.
"Am I sure there was a hearing? No," Glick
"The only reason that I think the probation release
was granted in a courtroom is based on what I was told
by Sandy (Dowd), but there's no way of me finding out
for sure," Glick remarked.
Soendker said he finds it strange the circuit clerk is
being mentioned by the prosecutor.
"Why is Sandy Dowd being brought into this? She's
not even a member of the prosecutor's office," Soendker
Glick claims there would have been no legal obligation
for her office to contact the victim or his family in
this case. She said even if they had made contact, her
office would have notified the victim directly, not his
father, "because (the victim) is over 18."
Soendker said the prosecutor never attempted to contact
him or his son, and he said Glick's latest remarks have
changed from what she originally told him.
"I'm finding out that she has changed her story
two or three times. First she said she had nothing to
do with it, that it was all Judge Witt. Then she says
Sandy Dowd sat in on a hearing, then I hear she (Glick)
is saying she has no record of a hearing. This is extremely
questionable. I think the integrity of the office is in
question," Soendker said by phone Tuesday.
Glick said she is sympathetic with Soendker's point of
"I feel sorry for the guy, but I'm not sure that
I'm the person that he should be upset with over this,"
Glick said this week.
"She has done nothing but backpedal. Now she's saying
she objected to it and the judge went ahead and approved
it. She's blaming the judge. The only person I haven't
heard from is Judge Witt," Soendker said.
"At the very least, the judge should have raised
the question and held it (the motion requesting early
release) until he heard something from the prosecutor's
office," he added.
"We aren't 'after' anybody in this. We just want
our son's rights protected and want to know why they weren't
protected," he said.
"Instead of deflecting blame and pointing back at
the judge, Ms. Glick needs to be finding out what went
wrong in this process because this is something you just
don't let slip through the cracks. You would think she
would be very upset with the judge or anyone who let this
slip through and make her look bad in an election year,"
In other portions of the complaint form filed with the
OCDC by Jim Soendker, he writes:
"About one month after Ms. Glick assumed office
last year (approximately November 2001) a motion was filed
by the defense attorney for Chase A. Verdoorn. It asked
for either a reduction or elimination to the probation
period. The motion went to Judge Gary Witt and a copy
(as required) went to the prosecutor's office. At this
point the county prosecutor would normally notify the
victim and request a hearing. She allowed the motion to
go uncontested. Even Judge Witt, knowing the passion we
felt on the case, should have known better. With all his
experience and knowledge, he knew this was not normal
procedure. To approve this motion in the privacy of an
office without a hearing makes me question his integrity
and intentions as well as Ms. Glick's," Soendker
said in his written complaint.
Soendker also went on to point out what he views as a
conflict of interest in the case. He wrote in his complaint:
In a phone interview, Glick defended herself against
the allegations of a personal conflict by saying: "We
did all go to the same school, but that doesn't mean anything.
I went to school with a lot of people."
Once a complaint is filed with the OCDC, the case will
be assigned to a disciplinary hearing panel. The panel
will hear evidence presented by the Chief Disciplinary
Counsel and any evidence submitted by the charged. After
this hearing, the Disciplinary Hearing Panel will decide
whether a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct
has occurred and recommend any of the following actions:
Dismissal of the case if it finds no violation
Written admonition (become part of the lawyer's
Private or public reprimand.
Suspension or disbarment.
According to a web page explaining the OCDC operation,
the Supreme Court of Missouri will review the recommendation
of the Disciplinary Hearing Panel. This may include the
preparation of written briefs and oral arguments. The
court then will impose appropriate discipline on the lawyer
or dismiss the case. The Supreme Court also has the authority,
if it so chooses, to review recommendation of the Disciplinary
Hearing Panel, even if there has been no appeal.