LINCOLN COUNTY • The Missouri Supreme Court has ordered a six-month unpaid suspension for Lincoln County Presiding Circuit Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer, citing “serious violations” of the Code of Judicial Conduct and state Constitution.
Mennemeyer did not contest the penalty, which was recommended in September by the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline.
The commission had found that she improperly delayed criminal cases during a dispute with the public defender’s office, leading to extra months in jail for some defendants. It also said she tried to coerce and intimidate public defenders, including the filing of an unfounded disciplinary complaint.
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In a decision announced Tuesday, the Supreme Court wrote that, “… it is clear that (the judge) intentionally delayed the appointment of public defenders to subvert the rights of indigent defendants,” and that “their right to be heard according to law was delayed.”
The disciplinary inquiry acknowledged Mennemeyer’s limited experience. A 1997 law school graduate, she had never handled a jury trial when she was elected in 2012 as the county’s only circuit judge. The dispute, over whether public defenders needed her approval to represent probation case defendants, began the following year.
The suspension will start Feb. 1; Mennemeyer will keep her job and pension.
Her lawyer, Paul D’Agrosa, previously said that while some allegations were in dispute, she felt it was in her “best interests to move on” without a fight.
Russell Faria, convicted by a jury in Mennemeyer’s court of murdering his wife, later won a new trial because the judge had refused to allow evidence against an alternate suspect, Pamela Hupp. Faria was acquitted by a different judge, and Hupp is awaiting trial in a related murder that occurred later in St. Charles County.