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In July of that year, Kimberly had filed criminal charges against Kevin for having the payment for a $1,589 American Express bill deducted from the pair's joint checking account. (Kevin, who had assumed responsibility for paying the couple's American Express bill, said the sum was for expenses Kimberly had charged while she was with McKee during the Disneyland trip.) As a result, Kevin was arrested at his office, in front of his co-workers. Kevin repaid the funds as part of a diversionary sentencing agreement with the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office.
Kevin, meanwhile, accused Kimberly of abuse after learning of a physical confrontation between Kimberly and their teenage daughter. He petitioned the court for full custody of the Ireland children. She responded by filing a motion claiming that Kevin was turning their daughter against her.
Smith, Kevin's first attorney, dropped out of the case. (He would not explain his decision to The Pitch.) Smith referred the matter to Edward Byrne, a tenacious lawyer whose petitions on Kevin's behalf indicate an appetite for high-conflict litigation.
Byrne set upon the case like a predator stalking wounded prey. After McKee and Kimberly filed documents protesting Byrne's entry in the case, he mailed them a letter dated October 24, 2007: "Your and your partner's continued intransigence with respect to this non-issue is juvenile, petulant and demonstrates a woeful ignorance of the most elementary legal principles," Byrne warned. He added: "Govern yourselves accordingly."
At this messy point, Judge Allen Slater, of Johnson County District Court, scheduled Kevin and Kimberly for a mediation session. They met with their mediator, District Court Judge Kevin P. Moriarty, on September 26, 2007.
The outcome was far from peaceful.
In mediations, Judge Moriarty doesn't wear a robe. He prefers everyday language to legalese, and he prides himself on his ability to bring warring parties into agreement. He thought the Irelands' mediation went well, which is why he was surprised to receive notice that Kimberly had filed a complaint against him with the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications. (On behalf of the Kansas Supreme Court, the commission investigates judges for allegations of wrongdoing.)
According to Kimberly's complaint dated October 3, 2007, Judge Moriarty "yelled that I was 'wasting his fucking time'" and "continually used and directed the word 'fuck' to me." She claimed that the judge had discussed her panties and her sex life during the mediation session. Then she dropped a bomb: "The majority of the time we were in the courtroom, it appeared as if Judge Moriarty was masturbating under the bench."
Moriarty denied Kimberly's allegations in a seven-page letter to the commission dated October 25, 2007. There was a shred of truth in the "panties" allegation, though Moriarty denied using the word. His references to underwear had been hypothetical, he explained. While discussing the division of property, Moriarty had asked whether Kevin would be allowed to retrieve his bicycles from the Ireland home. McKee and Kimberly refused, arguing that Kevin had used marital assets to buy the bikes, which were custom-built and expensive. "I tried to show them why their refusal to return the property to him was silly," Moriarty wrote. "I gave her the example of underwear. I said they each have purchased underwear with marital money and that neither one ever used the other's underwear. Should he be able to get her underwear because it was purchased with the marital proceeds?"
The commission found no basis for Kimberly's allegations, according to a letter dated November 15, 2007, from its chairman, Judge Robert Fleming. Instead, Fleming filed a complaint against Kimberly with the Disciplinary Administrator's Office for leveling false accusations against a judge.