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Court orders reinstatement of official who let friend spend night in Prairie Village City Hall

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TOPEKA, Kansas — A suburban Kansas City official was improperly kicked out of office for allowing a homeless friend to sleep in City Hall and should be reinstated, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe's office said his office would ask the Kansas Supreme Court to review Friday's decision, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1whyVGL) reports. Howe's office filed an ouster motion after Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison took his longtime friend to the employee lounge in 2012, gave him his City Hall passcode and didn't tell anyone else what he was doing.

Johnson County District Judge David Hauber said in ordering the ouster that Morrison was "willing to compromise his own integrity, the integrity of the city and the security of others because it appealed to his own need to be regarded as a benefactor" to his friend.

But the appeals court said in its ruling that it found no evidence that Morrison's actions "arose out of an evil or corrupt motive; out of a habitual disregard for his public duty; out of a quest for selfish gain; or resulted in a serious threat to public safety." Because those are the factors the law requires for the "drastic" step of ouster, the court found that the law had been misapplied in Morrison's case. It found that a "simple error of judgment" is not sufficient.

Tom Bath, one of the lawyers who represented Morrison, said it was an example of a "little guy standing up to the government." Morrison said he was eager to again have the "pleasure and privilege" of serving as a councilman.

Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer said the city will wait and see how the legal case is resolved.

"However it turns out, we will respect the opinion of the court," Shaffer said.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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