The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 24, 2013

Lawrence County prosecutor, Cassville attorney disciplined

The Lawrence County prosecutor and a Barry County attorney were disciplined Tuesday by the Missouri Supreme Court for violations of conduct rules in a civil case they handled.

Al Don Trotter, of Monett, was placed on probation for two years in the disciplinary case related to the injury of a couple and the deaths of three children in a 2008 traffic accident in Rolla. Trotter was elected as Lawrence County prosecutor in 2010.

The other attorney, James Michael Riehn, of Cassville, was admonished for his role in the violations.

Trotter’s attorney, Sara Rittman, of Jefferson City, said by phone that the violations involved a failure of the attorneys to document agreements on representation and fees.

Asked if the disciplinary action would affect Trotter’s ability to serve as prosecutor, she said: “It will not affect him at all. It is strictly a probation order, so he is completely able to practice as prosecutor or as a private attorney.” She said the violations did not involve any criminal case handled by his office.

Neither Riehn nor his attorney, Donald Cupps, of Cassville, could be reached Tuesday for comment.

According to briefs filed in the case by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, the case involved a traffic accident on March 20, 2008, in Rolla. The clients involved in the case were Christina Miess and her boyfriend, Mark Barton. They were stopped in traffic by a road construction crew, and their car was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. Miess’ three daughters, one of them Barton’s daughter, were riding in the back seat and were killed. Barton, who was driving, and Miess were seriously injured, according to the court documents.

The day after the accident, a relative of Miess asked Trotter to meet with the couple. He did, and the couple agreed they would split evenly any damages obtained in regard to the death of their daughter, according to the court files. Trotter brought Riehn in to help him handle the lawsuit.

Later, Miess hired another attorney and released Trotter and Riehn, though Barton continued to be represented by them.

Trotter and Riehn failed to document in writing that there was an agreement between the clients on how the damages were to be divided. Failure to document those agreements in regard to representation and fees resulted in the disciplinary case.

That happened because “the attorneys were more focused at that point on gathering information from the accident and didn’t confirm (the agreements) in writing,” Rittman said.

“Attorneys have very specific, detailed rules, and these rules definitely did require these things in writing, and they just didn’t get those aspects of the rules taken care of in writing,” Rittman said.

Admissions

THE ATTORNEYS admitted to the violations and agreed to the disciplinary action, according to court records.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Ballot issues dominate GOP event

    A maze of campaign yard signs lined the sidewalk at Big Spring Park, leading up to a line of local candidates for public office with rolled-up sleeves shaking hands with potential voters.

    July 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound: It’s time for some football

    The arrests, the announced suspensions and the contract disputes can mean only one thing: Somebody is ready for some football.

    July 24, 2014

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hanaway says leadership missing under Gov. Nixon

    When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway walked into the banquet room at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant this week, she was greeted by some of Joplin’s more prominent business leaders.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shrine Bowl band, cheerleaders, players arrive in Pittsburg this week

    Band members were the first Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to arrive at Pittsburg State University this week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter