Missouri court upholds $2 million judge-discrimination case

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 4:28 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a $2.1 million discrimination judgment in favor of an applicant who was rejected for a municipal judgeship in Kansas City.

The decision Tuesday comes in the case of Melissa Howard, who was one of three white female finalists in 2006 for a vacant seat on the city court.

The Kansas City Council repeatedly rejected all three finalists during public meetings in which council members criticized the lack of diversity among the finalists.

Howard, an assistant prosecutor in Clay County, filed a discrimination lawsuit and was awarded more than $600,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages. That award was tossed out by a state appeals court panel last year. But the Supreme Court's decision reinstates the judgment.

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