Disbarred Kansas City attorney seeks return of law license

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A disbarred Kansas City attorney whose conviction for killing his law partner was overturned is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to return his law license, a request that his former partner's widow opposed.

 Richard Buchli II was convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder in the death of Richard Armitage, 49, in their downtown Kansas City law office. He was disbarred in 2005. His conviction was overturned in 2006 after a judge ruled that evidence had been withheld from the defense.

Jackson County prosecutors dismissed the case earlier this year after an appeals court threw out most of the evidence and Buchli is now asking the state Supreme Court to rescind his disbarment, The Kansas City Star reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/T9u2il ).

"In order to move forward and have the opportunity to reclaim some financial security," Buchli's law license "should be reinstated without any further delay," attorney Robert Ernest Gould wrote in a court filing on Buchli's behalf.

Even though the murder conviction was overturned, it doesn't necessarily mean a lawyer will be reinstated because disciplinary authorities do not have to meet the same standard of proof required to obtain a conviction, said Ellen Suni, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school.

"They could look at all of the underlying facts and determine whether or not they believed a crime was committed," she said. "It doesn't require that there be a conviction."

Buchli has not been acquitted in the case meaning charges could be refiled someday.

"We are actively working the case," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who does not want Buchli to regain his law license. Nor does Armitage's widow, Kathy Armitage, who believes Buchli was correctly convicted in her husband's death.

"There's no way in hell he should become a lawyer again," she said.

Buchli's petition is awaiting a report and recommendation that the Missouri Supreme Court requested from the state's Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

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