Kansas prosecutor surrenders law license

Terra Morehead, who retired as a federal prosecutor last August, has agreed to turn over her law license as part of an agreement with a Kansas disciplinary board. As a Wyandotte County prosecutor in the 1990s, Morehead helped KCKPD Detective Roger Golubski frame an innocent man who spent 23 years in prison.

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April 18, 2024 - 2:17 PM

Terra Morehead, in an undated photo, is a long-time Kansas prosecutor who has surrendered her law license after several high-profile ethical issues. Photo by Gabe Rosenberg/KCUR 89.3/Kansas News Service

Terra Morehead, a longtime county and federal prosecutor who helped police frame at least one innocent man, has agreed to surrender her law license and faces disbarment.

Morehead, who became notorious for skirting legal protections for defendants, agreed to surrender her license as part of an agreement with the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys. She is awaiting disbarment from the Kansas Supreme Court, according to court filings.

The documents also show that Morehead, who retired from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas last August, was the subject of a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The result of that probe is unknown.

Morehead’s conduct came under scrutiny during the exoneration of Lamonte McIntyre, who was convicted in 1994 of a double homicide when he was 17.

McIntyre was freed in 2017 after Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said his conviction was a “manifest injustice” and a judge dropped the case. McIntyre sued and was awarded $12.5 million in 2022 by the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County for the wrongful conviction.

Acting on a case built by disgraced former Kansas City, Kansas Police detective Roger Golubski, Morehead presented no physical evidence tying McIntyre to the murders. She relied upon the testimony of a witness, Niko Quinn, who later recanted.

Quinn said Morehead threatened to throw her in jail and take her children if she didn’t lie about what she saw the day of the double homicide. Morehead also failed to disclose that she had a past romantic relationship with the judge on the case.

Quinn, reached Tuesday, said she is glad authorities are finally starting to clean up problems in the criminal justice system. Quinn and four other Black women have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Unified Government alleging that officials permitted an “open and notorious police protection racket” to victimize the Black community.

Morehead’s actions may be added to the federal lawsuit, Quinn said. She said Morehead’s career had profited from her suffering.

“This is the beginning of my dreams,” Quinn said, “because I want her dreams.”

Golubski faces a federal trial this fall on charges that he violated the civil rights of several Black women and, in a separate case, protected a KCK drug dealer who was running a sex trafficking operation of underage girls. He is currently on home arrest and was recently chided by a federal magistrate for violating his arrest conditions by going to a fast-food place.

After her tenure in the Wyandotte County DA’s office, Morehead moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, where she became embroiled in other alleged ethical breaches and was removed from criminal cases in 2021.

Morehead was criticized in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation after a federal judge in 2017 tossed a defendant’s conviction on drug charges.

In a rare public admonishment, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that Morehead had interfered with a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and found that Morehead had “substantially interfered with a defense witness’s decision to testify” in the case.

A March 20 filing with the Kansas Supreme Court, signed by Alice Walker, deputy disciplinary administrator for the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys, asks the court to forego an April pre-hearing and a May formal hearing because Morehead had agreed to surrender her license to practice law. The disciplinary board recommended that the high court accept it.

The court approved the request and is now expected to issue a formal disbarment, which is standard practice under Kansas Supreme Court rules when an attorney surrenders their law license.

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