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Candidates for Howard County Prosecuting Attorney

Election 2022

Posted 10/18/22

The 2022 midterm elections are less than a month away and voters in Howard County will decide who will be the county prosecuting attorney next year. Two-term Republican incumbent Deborah Riekhof will …

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Candidates for Howard County Prosecuting Attorney

Election 2022


The 2022 midterm elections are less than a month away and voters in Howard County will decide who will be the county prosecuting attorney next year. Two-term Republican incumbent Deborah Riekhof will take on challenger Frank R. Flaspohler, who filed as an independent, in the November 8 election. The Advertiser reached out to both candidates with a series of questions. Their unabridged responses are printed below.

Deborah Riekhof

What makes you the best candidate for the job of Howard County Prosecuting Attorney? Experience. Experience is everything for a part-time prosecutor position in a county that processes well over a thousand cases a year and a small county budget. I have been a prosecutor since 2011. I have devoted over 65% of my career to the criminal justice system. I have an established relationship with every law enforcement [LE] agency in Howard County. I am aware that Howard County has limited resources. Just this term, my office has processed over 4,600 cases and restored almost $125,000 in restitution to victims. I cannot, nor will I justify spending taxpayer dollars on pursuing jury trials for minor offenses when those funds are needed to prosecute child predators and violent offenders. A prosecutor is NOT an activist and should not use the office in that capacity. A prosecutor should not have any agenda other than pursuing justice. 

What qualifications do you hold for the role of Howard County Prosecuting Attorney?

Integrity. I am direct and to the point in all of my interactions. I have no hidden agenda. I do not seek publicity. I always realistically represent the criminal process to the victims. I do not make charging decisions based on race, gender, religion, political affiliation, or family name. In fact, I make a point of not asking the names of the parties involved when LE first presents a case to me so that I can base my decisions on facts alone. If I see a possible conflict of interest, I request a special prosecutor.

Fiscal Integrity. When it became clear that our county did not have enough violent crime to justify a dedicated victim advocate position, I found a way to incorporate victim advocacy services into another position rather than cutting it completely, saving the county money while still maintaining adequate advocacy services. I have never wasted taxpayer dollars or failed an audit. My office comes in well under budget every year.

What is your philosophy regarding the role of the Prosecutor in the criminal justice system?

The prosecutor represents the state, not LE and not the victim, with the goal of seeking justice. Charging decisions should be made in accordance with the law, objectively and with consideration of all circumstances, including community safety and the wishes of the victim. 

I believe that cases should be disposed of in a way to further community safety and with restoration of the victim in mind. Unless there is violence involved, most people deserve a second chance and an opportunity at rehabilitation. However, I do not believe in third, fourth, and fifth chances, which seems to be the new political norm. The disposition of a criminal case should deter future crime and attempt to make the victim whole, not coddle the criminal through the criminal justice system. The taxpayer should not be responsible for a criminal’s well-being.

What relationship should the Howard County Prosecuting Attorney have with law enforcement? 

In large communities, most officers seldom have direct contact with a prosecutor. Cases are handled by multiple officers within different departments. By the time it gets to the prosecutor, it has been scrutinized many times over and may have gone through a dozen or more hands. That type of relationship between LE and the prosecutor is not possible in Howard, nor is it desirable. In our small community, it is common that a case is worked from start to finish by one officer, who may check in with the prosecutor’s office multiple times before the case is ready to be filed. 

The Howard County Prosecuting Attorney needs to have a positive relationship with law enforcement built on mutual respect and trust. The prosecutor’s job is not to second guess every decision that LE makes but to offer guidance on legal standards. LE needs to know that there is a prosecutor that supports them and appreciates the work they do for the community. I have worked as a prosecutor with some of our officers for almost 12 years. They need to know that the prosecutor is not deliberately undermining their authority. The prosecutor does not represent LE but does have an obligation to help LE complete investigations that will withstand the rigors of Court.

What is your view regarding no-cash bail rules?

A judge sets a bond to ensure the safety of the community and/or the return of the defendant to court. No-cash bail rules take away a judge’s discretion in issuing bonds. Legislation that takes away the ability of a judge to protect the community is not good legislation. No-cash bail rules benefit no one except the criminal. They blatantly disregard the safety of our community and the victims. While cash bonds are not a perfect system, when set in a reasonable manner, they facilitate justice. If the honor system worked, we would not have crime in the first place.

Frank R. Flaspohler

What makes you the best candidate for the job of Howard County Prosecuting Attorney?

I will bring a fresh start to the prosecutor’s office to make it more efficient and professional in working for our community. I have managed a successful private law practice for the last twelve years, and running any small business requires good management and efficient operation. I know that I have to return phone calls, be available in the office, and participate in my community events. As a small business owner, I understand that my livelihood depends on my community, and that my practice only succeeds when my community is doing well.

As an attorney, I haven’t worked on a salary or relied on tax money to fund my budget. I understand that it takes hard work to make sure you have money for payroll and expenses each month, but I know how to work hard to make sure that happens each month. As your next prosecutor, I will bring that hard work to make sure that criminal cases are completed in a timely manner, to avoid the pain everyone feels when they have to come back to court for “just another continuance.” I will work to ensure that when someone shows up for court, each person is respected and treated fairly. 

What qualifications do you hold for the role of Howard County Prosecuting Attorney?

 I have been a licensed attorney in the State of Missouri since 2010, and I have appeared in courts as far south as Branson, and as far north as Maryville. I’ve handled cases in courtrooms in Kansas City and St. Louis, and many of the counties in between. I’ve argued cases before the Missouri Court of Appeals and before the Missouri Supreme Court. I am also licensed in the United States Federal Court, Western District of Missouri, and I am admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC. In short, there is not a criminal case in Howard County that I could not handle, from the trial court here in Fayette, to every appellate court in between, and all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

What is your philosophy regarding the role of the Prosecutor in the criminal justice system?

Every prosecution should have three goals: 

First, to restore the victim who suffered from the crime. Every victim deserves a victim’s advocate who will argue on their behalf in the courtroom to make their voice heard. Some victims suffer harm in financial loss, others in more personal ways. Seeking restitution is only the first step, and more attention should be given to make sure the victim can move on from any harm and put their injury behind them.

Second, a prosecutor must look to repair the community, both in the harm suffered by a single crime, but also in finding new ways to prevent and discourage future crimes. But, the whole community suffers from every crime. When your neighbor’s house is vandalized, you feel unsafe in your home, even though you might not have ever been the victim. When your child’s friend is assaulted, you worry for your child as well. By taking a wider view, the prosecutor, together with the judges and others, can help make the whole community better by looking at more than just individual cases.

Finally, every prosecution hopes to reform the offender by preventing them from committing future crimes, and discouraging others from doing the same. Sometimes this means putting people in jail and isolating them from the community. Other times, it means probation with special conditions that allow people to make up for their wrong-doing through community service or other special programs to assist them. Slapping a jail sentence on someone, and letting them out nine months later, simply doesn’t prevent future crimes. 

As your next prosecutor, I will look at every criminal case as an opportunity to restore victims, repair our community, and reform the offenders.

What relationship should the Howard County Prosecuting Attorney have with law enforcement? 

Every criminal case in the county crosses the prosecutor’s desk, and the prosecutor has to approve every case before it is filed. But, just like a police officer can use discretion in deciding whether or not to give you a speeding ticket, the prosecutor has discretion in deciding which cases to file. So, when law enforcement does an investigation, they have to put together enough evidence to convince the prosecutor that they can take the case to a jury and show beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

A prosecutor shouldn’t just sign off on every case that a police officer brings to them, because that neglects their duty to review the cases before filing them with the court. But, if there is some issue with the case, a prosecutor should work with the officer to address those issues, so that justice can truly be served in every matter. And those concerns should be address professionally and respectfully. As your next prosecutor, I would like to see a more involvement with training and making sure that every officer understands exactly what evidence is needed to prosecute a case.

What is your view regarding no-cash bail rules?

Just like the rest of our nation, Missouri has struggled with finding a fair way to set bonds that doesn’t simply let violent rich people out, and keep poor non-violent offenders locked up. When people are kept locked up, they lose their jobs, even before they are found guilty of any crime. As your prosecutor, I will work with our courts to ensure our bonds are fair, and that they protect our community from future harm.

Fortunately, Missouri has placed that decision into the hands of the judge, and not solely on the prosecutor. A prosecutor can make a recommendation for a bond and special conditions, and they explain to the judge why those conditions are necessary. When a judge is concerned for public safety, they can detain an individual without bond, or if they grant bond, then they can add any special conditions requested by the prosecutor, or that the judge believes appropriate.


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