Topeka — A Kansas University scientist on Friday filed complaints in two states against the attorney who helped devise anti-evolution instruction in public schools but is not licensed to practice law in Kansas.
Steve Case, an assistant research professor at KU, filed the grievances against John Calvert, a lawyer who is managing director of a Kansas-based organization that fights against the teaching of evolution in the classroom. Case was head of a committee of scientists that worked on public school science standards.
Calvert, of Lake Quivira, said the complaints were baseless.
"This is shoot the messenger so that the message is not heard," Calvert said.
He said Case was trying to suppress "honest, rational, reasonable criticism of evolutionary theory."
Calvert was instrumental in getting a conservative majority on the Kansas State Board of Education to approve science standards that have drawn international attention with their criticism of evolutionary theory. Those standards replaced proposed standards, written by Case's committee of scientists, that placed evolution as the foundation of much of science.
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"John was using his status as a lawyer to try to intimidate and manipulate the process," Case said.
Case recently discovered that during the months-long debate and fight over science standards, in which Calvert represented a minority group of scientists who criticized evolution, Calvert was not licensed to practice law in Kansas.
In fact, Calvert has never been licensed to practice law in Kansas. He is licensed to practice law in Missouri.
Yet, Case said, Calvert always held himself out as a lawyer during the four days of hearings in Topeka on the standards, and numerous memos, position papers and debate over the issue.
"This is about honesty, integrity and ethics," Case said.
In Kansas, representing oneself as a licensed professional is a crime.
Case has filed complaints with the Kansas Supreme Court, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline and the Shawnee County District Attorney's office. He also has filed a complaint with the Missouri Supreme Court.
Calvert said the hearings and proceedings before the board of education were not judicial proceedings in which he needed a Kansas license.
Case has said he doesn't know if Calvert is right, but that legal officials should make the call.
All through the process of devising science standards, the conservative majority on the board changed the process, Case said.
"I'm really tired of the lack of clarity," he said.
But Case conceded that even if a question arises about Calvert's status in the completed debate, that probably won't affect the science standards.
The state board has advanced the standards on a 6-4 vote with possible final action on them this fall.