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Home / Featured / Legal moves, award winners top Missouri Lawyers Media’s most-read online stories of 2019

Legal moves, award winners top Missouri Lawyers Media’s most-read online stories of 2019

Award winners, unexpected departures, lawyers running into trouble and a legal battle involving the Sunshine Law drew the most attention from readers of Missouri Lawyers Media on in 2019. Here are the 10 most-viewed stories on our website in the past year:

10. Greensfelder CEO dies in biking accident (June)

The loss of Tim Thornton after a bicycle accident sent shock waves through Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, where the widely respected leader spent nearly his entire legal career, and beyond.

Thornton, who won a Law Firm Leader honor at the 2017 Missouri Lawyers Awards, died at age 64. Read more

9. 2019 Missouri Lawyers Verdicts & Settlements winners announced (January)

Our yearly rankings of attorneys who scored the biggest civil victories in Missouri courts — broken down by top plaintiff’s verdicts, top plaintiff’s judgments, top settlements and top defense verdicts — scored big with readers. Read more

8. Missouri Lawyers Media honors 50 with Up & Coming Awards (August-October)

Missouri Lawyers Media’s annual recognition of outstanding early-career lawyers once again generated a lot of interest with readers. This year’s group of 50 attorneys, including six who were honored for their exceptional mentorship, was celebrated at a luncheon and networking event attended by more than 250 people in October. Read more

7. Chelsea Merta’s exit from Stange leads to jail, labor settlement (August)

The long-running legal battle between the Stange Law Firm and attorney Chelsea Merta, who left Stange early in 2018, drew many website readers. After Merta departed from the firm, Stange filed suit to recover confidential information it said Merta unlawfully obtained. Eventually, the resulting multi-venue dispute landed Merta in jail and caused Stange to no longer sue former employees who criticized the firm online. Read more

6. Missouri Lawyers Media presents the 2019 In-House Counsel Awards winners (November)

A story detailing the 22 attorneys honored by Missouri Lawyers Media with links to profiles on all of the 2019 In-House Counsel Awards winners drew a large amount of attention from website readers. More than 200 people attended the breakfast event to celebrate the winners. Keith Williams, executive vice president, secretary and general counsel of Centene Corporation, received the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Read more

5. Missouri attorney disbarred for unauthorized settlement (October)

Stacey Rosa Hancock was disbarred after she settled a lawsuit without her client’s consent and didn’t disclose that settlement until confronted by another lawyer. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel found 17 instances in which Hancock had allowed her trust-account balance to fall below the amount needed to pay settlement proceeds to clients. Read more

4. Judge Matt J. Whitworth dies at 61 (October)

Remembered by former colleagues as “one of the most decent people I ever knew,” a man “committed to treating everyone he encountered with fairness and respect,” and a “tremendous lawyer and jurist,” Judge Matt J. Whitworth, who died Oct. 8, also struck a chord with our readers. Whitworth, a former federal prosecutor, was the chief magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Read more

3. Directors of The Missouri Bar, Public Defender system resign (October)

The unexpected resignations of a Missouri lawyer power couple early in October drew the interest of website readers. Sebrina Barrett, executive director of The Missouri Bar since 2013, and her husband, Michael, who had been head of the state public defender system since 2015, announced plans to move to New York, where the couple had lived before moving to Missouri in 2011. Read more

2. Norwood named 2019 Woman of the Year (March)

Missouri Lawyers Media selected Washington University School of Law Professor Kimberly J. Norwood as its Woman of the Year. Norwood headed the list of 51 Women’s Justice Awards honorees that included judges, in-house counsel, legal scholars and private practitioners from across the state, as well as outstanding students at Missouri law schools. Read more

1. Raytown ordered to pay $42,550 for Sunshine Law violation (February)

In a story that was far and away the most-read story on in 2019, a judge ruled the Jackson County city violated the Sunshine Law by denying the release of records to Paula Wyrick in an attempt to keep itself from litigation. The judge also ordered the city to pay civil penalties to Wyrick and fees to her attorneys.

Wyrick’s mother died of injuries sustained in a 2016 crash at a Raytown intersection. Her attorneys requested city records about the intersection, but a city clerk denied that request and three others. The law firm responded by filing a lawsuit asking for relief in 2017 and summary judgment in April 2018. Read more