weekend run-in with the law has prompted the resignation of the judge of the Riverside Municipal Court.
Charles M. McKeon, 47, submitted a letter of resignation as Riverside’s municipal judge Monday morning. McKeon, who also has a law practice in Kansas City, had served as judge at Riverside since May of 1992.
His resignation comes on the heels of his arrest by Kansas City police early Sunday morning. As of Tuesday, McKeon had yet to face any formal charges, but a police report indicates he is being investigated for possibly driving under the influence. A source said police are preparing reports and awaiting additional crime lab tests before turning a potential case over to prosecutors.
Voice mail messages left by The Landmark for McKeon at his Kansas City law office had not been returned at press time.
Police said McKeon fled the scene of an accident in the drive through lane of a McDonalds restaurant near I-29 and 64th Street in Platte County.
According to the police report obtained by The Landmark, McKeon allegedly bumped a car in front of his in the fast food drive through lane shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday. After a second impact occurred, the other driver pulled to the side and attempted to exchange information with McKeon. After a few minutes, McKeon fled the scene in his 2005 Cadillac.
The driver of the other car had taken down McKeon’s license plate number and description of his car. That driver phoned a relative, who was in the area, and the relative followed McKeon’s vehicle to Barry Road and Roanridge. The relative “blocked in” McKeon’s vehicle at 8340 Roanridge.
The police report indicates McKeon stumbled and “almost fell” when he was asked to retrieve his identification from inside his car. Police say McKeon refused to have a field sobriety test administered. At that time, McKeon was told he was under arrest and was transported to North Kansas City Patrol headquarters. The report alleges McKeon “refused to cooperate” in any way regarding his jail booking or completion of the alcohol/influence report.
Police say McKeon then asked to use the restroom and was accompanied by an officer. While in the restroom, police say McKeon starting consuming large amounts of water “in an attempt to disrupt” the breath test. The officer asked him to stop on two occasions and he refused. The officer then began to pull McKeon away from the sink. McKeon then allegedly slammed his own head against the door frame and then collapsed on the floor as if he was injured, according to the report. He was then transported to Saint Luke’s Hospital on Barry Road after he refused to get off the floor.
“Upon arrival at the hospital, the suspect continued to pretend as if he was unconscious and injured while in the presence of any police officer but would converse and become immediately alert when I left the room,” the police officer says in his report. “On two occasions I walked into the room and witnessed him conversing with medical staff and then suddenly fall back onto the bed when he saw me.”
McKeon was evaluated at the hospital and released. He was then transported to headquarters for booking. He was released shortly after noon on Sunday.
RIVERSIDE OFFICIALS REACT
Riverside Mayor Pro Tem Ray Beard announced Monday morning that McKeon had resigned his post.
In a press release, Beard said: “Once we became aware of the arrest, Mr. McKeon was placed on administrative leave from his city department. This is a difficult time for the McKeon family and we wish them the best.”
Also Monday, Beard said he requested Presiding Judge of the Platte County Circuit Court, Judge Lee Hull, to appoint an acting municipal court judge until a permanent replacement can be found. Hull then appointed Thomas C. Fincham as a special municipal judge for Riverside.
“I am confident that with Judge Fincham’s help, our court process will continue uninterrupted,” Beard added.
Municipal judge at Riverside is an appointed, not elected, position. City Administrator David Blackburn on Tuesday told The Landmark he is not sure when a permanent replacement for McKeon would be named.
Blackburn emphasized that since McKeon has resigned, the only action that would be taken in regard to the matter at a board of aldermen meeting this week will be to accept McKeon’s resignation.
“It will just be a case of them (aldermen) accepting the resignation. It will be a formality,” Blackburn told The Landmark Tuesday afternoon.
OTHER CASES AFFECTED
In his private practice, McKeon often serves as a defense attorney for clients in the area. He is listed as legal representation on at least two cases that have received recent coverage in The Landmark.
McKeon was counsel for Ricky Hill of Platte City, who faces misdemeanor charges of assault/attempted assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting/interfering with arrest. Those charges stem from an incident that occurred last summer at a construction site near the Platte City Middle School.
Hill, 53, was scheduled to go before a bench trial on Monday, March 6, but that has now been delayed due to the arrest of McKeon. Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said Hill’s case will now have a docket call on March 21. A new trial date will be determined later, Zahnd said.
In addition, McKeon had been serving as legal representation for Eric S. Malott, 18, of Platte City, who faces two counts of second degree property damage in Buchanan County. Malott is scheduled to go to trial on those charges on April 5 at 1 p.m., but it is not yet known whether that trial will be heard as scheduled or will be delayed because of the troubles facing McKeon.
Malott and two others are accused of shooting pellet guns at more than 20 parked cars in St. Joseph in December.