The small town of Lee’s Summit, Missouri has an amazing case unfolding in front of its city council. Ted White recently won a federal case showing that detective Richard McKinley violated his civil rights after spending five years behind jail on a sexual abuse charge. White found out later that McKinley was allegedly having an affair with his wife at the time. He is now laying out the case before the city council and demanding that McKinley be fired.
White won $16 million for the wrongful conviction, alleging that McKinley lied, destroyed evidence, and hide his relationship with his wife (who McKinley later married). The effort to get McKinley fired creates an interesting moral hazard for the city. If McKinley loses on the appeal, the city will have to pay $14 million of the total award. McKinley will be bankrupted by his share and could turn hostile to the city, scuttling or undermining the litigation for the city. This is not a small amount of money for a city of this size. Yet, if McKinley was a rogue employee, termination would appear long overdue.
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