Archive for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

On the records: Patient privacy concerns new AG

Morrison to fire Tiller prosecutor

January 9, 2007


— Moments after being sworn into office, Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison said Monday he will fire the special prosecutor in his predecessor's abortion investigation.

He's also fearful about the security of records in the case.

"I do have concerns about how many copies have been made of that material and who's got possession of them," Morrison said of the case file, which includes medical records of women and girls who received abortions.

In his final days as attorney general, Phill Kline appointed attorney Don McKinney to lead efforts to charge George Tiller, a Wichita doctor, with performing illegal late-term abortions. Tiller has denied any wrongdoing.

"There is no doubt about the fact that we're going to get rid of Mr. McKinney," Morrison said Monday. "I do not view him as being even remotely independent or remotely objective to (handle the case)."

McKinney of Wichita could not be reached for comment. Both he and Kline are ardent abortion opponents.

Kline filed charges against Tiller alleging he performed 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22 and failed to properly report details of the procedures to state health officials. Tiller, through his attorneys, has said the abortions were allowable under an exception to the late-term abortion ban that permits them if the mother's life or health is threatened.

The misdemeanor charges filed last month in Sedgwick County District Court were dismissed on a jurisdiction issue after Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston protested Kline's actions.

Kline then appointed McKinney as a special prosecutor in the case, saying he didn't think Morrison would pursue the investigation once he left office.

In an attempt to reinstate the charges, McKinney has appealed that District Court decision to the Kansas Supreme Court.

McKinney wrote to the state Supreme Court that "Foulston had no lawful authority to interfere with the action of the attorney general."

Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, described Morrison's intention to fire McKinney as an "overt political act aimed at thwarting the prosecution of Tiller, with whom Morrison has political ties."

Morrison denied the allegation, vowing to review the case that Kline has put together.

"If there are illegal abortions taking place in this state in violation of state law, I will enforce them," Morrison said.

Morrison, a Democrat and former Johnson County district attorney, routed Kline, a Republican, in the November general election. Then in an unprecedented turn of events in Kansas politics, Republican precinct officials in Johnson County elected Kline to become district attorney there.

They were allowed to select Morrison's successor because Morrison had been elected to the district attorney's office as a Republican and then switched to the Democratic Party to run against Kline. Kline took over his new job Monday.


KS 11 years, 3 months ago

You loose your whole argument smitty, when you just attack someone personally. You don't have to agree with someone, but "slime buckets"?

preebo 11 years, 3 months ago

It would be nice that one article could be place on this website where some imbecile doesn't speak about this from his left foot. Use your minds and contribute something substantial to this debate and not some pedophilia argument. I know that seems to bolster your argument, but remember we are trying to gather informed criticism on the topic and not some half-baked personal objection based on the standards your parents presented you with.

For one, the child rape case argument is completely bogus, as the investigation should go through the normal channels of the local law enforcement system. In that case it should be those guilty of perpertrating the crimes against children who should be prosecuted and not a medically licsensed physician. This is why there are mentions of a fishing expedition. Kline should know the routine, afterall he was the leading legal officer for the state.

All in all, Kansas is better off without Kline in office and Morrison will bring a legal knowledge standard for someone who is to serve as the highest ranking lawyer in the state. I, for one, feel safer with Paul Morrison in office.

One last thing. Please keep the comments relative to the topic and not run-off into some cavern of circular logic and confusion.

justthefacts 11 years, 3 months ago

"the investigation should go through the normal channels of the local law enforcement system."

Agreed. But what are the normal channels?

How can law enforcement officials find out about the alleged crime of child rape? The children aren't often able or likely to call in a report on their own.

The Kansas Legislature decided that issue (in part) by requiring specific professionals (among them doctors) to report cases of child rape that they discover in the course of performing their jobs. Any child under the age of 14 has been raped - they aren't old enough to give legal consent to having sex. So the Legislature dictated that certain professionals become "mandatory reporters" of suspected or potential child abuse. Rape of a child is child abuse, isn't it, in most people's books/minds?

Thus, any required reporter who finds out about the pregnancy of a child under that age has, by Kansas law, a duty to report it to "law enforcement" (actually to child welfare service investigators) so they can make further inquiries.

The failure to make reports of possible child rape to law enforcement is one of the things that Teller got into trouble over. Instead of alerting child welfare authorities that a child under the age of 14 was pregnant, so that they could investigate to see who the father was (a father, uncle, mom's boyfriend versus a same age range union), the Dr. just aborted the baby and that was it.

So, "the investigation should go through the normal channels of the local law enforcement system" requires that those who are in positions to know about a child rape properly report it. The reporting laws are part of the "normal channels."

John1945 11 years, 3 months ago

Morrison and his media stooges keep misrepresenting the records Kline received as if they contained personally identifiable information and they don't.

If Morrison isn't going to tell the truth about this issue, and the press are going to give him a pass what else is he going to be dishonest about, and what else are his media lackeys going to cover up?

Kansas, as corrupt as you think it is.

preebo 11 years, 3 months ago

So, again, shouldn't have Kline worked with the Sedwick County and Johnson County DA offices, respectively, to orchestrate a criminal investigation into the possibility of child molestation/rape or incest cases? I mean, that is the reason the offices were created.

Anybody that has taken Criminal Procedures I in Law school would know that there are proper channels in place to carry out an investigation. Kline took the liberty to circumvent those channels and that is how he lost this case. Jurisdiction is a huge issue when prosecuting a case, he should have known that, as the states leading lawyer. It is that type of behaviour from a legal professional that gives me causes for concern when he is looking into private medical records. Because, as we also know another huge issue in case law is precedent. I am not ready to go down that road, yet.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

This case has never been about pedophilia or child rape in any way. It's always been about Kline's personal objection to abortion, any abortion, in any term.

He's used the tired old "protecting our children" BS over and over, when what he really wants to do is abolish abortion.

It has nothing to do with protecting children. It never did. Otherwise, why did Kline never attempt to prosecute anyone for child rape? Especially if his "evidence" is so great? Otherwise, why did he never investigate the many, many cases where underage girls gave birth?

Or are you attempting to say that all child rape results in abortion? How delusional of you.

Tiller didn't get in trouble for anything he might have done. He got in trouble solely because Kline doesn't like abortion, doesn't like Tiller, and has a personal vendetta against him.

And Morrison is right about McKinney. He is in no way objective about this at all. He's just Kline's stooge.

John1945 11 years, 3 months ago

Kline should take a case he investigated to Morrison and Foulston? You betcha, and we can tell just how much they care about prosecuting Tiller's crimes by the way they've already behaved.

Inquisitions are designed so that an AG can go around a corrupt DA that's playing favorites with a political crony.

Kansas as corrupt as you think it is.

preebo 11 years, 3 months ago

Inquisition? Are you sure that's the legal term you were looking for? Somehow, I think you were looking for something else, perhaps an inquest? In any event, If the DAs are corrupt as you happen to suggest, then there are end-arounds and they are called judicial committees which can setup investigative panels to look into a DAs activities. I suppose they forgot that over at the AGs office, huh? Or is it possible that Mr. Kline the conservative finger-puppet that he is wanted to make a political statement based on what he preceived the political climate was in the state? I wouls surmise that he did. Phile Kline has always been a better politican then an attorney.

Let it be known that I, for one, am against abortion, but I am also against governmental intrusion especially when it violates U.S. and State Constitutional Law.

deec 11 years, 3 months ago

Not all the records were those of minors. There was no known attempt to research live births to minors. There was no known attempt to research all physicians' records regarding minors suffering from STDs. The records were only redacted after the court required this in order to release the records.

Jamesaust 11 years, 3 months ago

"Late term abortions are not the reason that Kline supposedly went after the records in the first place."

Yes they were. That's exactly why Kline's records rooting was isolated (originally) ONLY to abortion clinics. Kline was unconcerned about live births resulting from rape/incest.

And the ONLY reason he wanted the records to root around in was that he did NOT have evidence that any crime had been committed in the first place.

" if they contained personally identifiable information and they don't."

ONLY because Kline was sued all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court to stop him. Perhaps you were asleep at the time? It was in all the papers. (I'd hate the alternative, that you are committing the SIN of lying.)

I would also note that Kline was under judicial order to protect the privacy of even the redacted documents which he didn't do. (Surprise!)

Kansas! (Alice's) Wonderland! Sentence first, evidence last. We KNOW Tiller MUST be guilty of something, so let's cut down all the LAWS to get at him! Who cares what HARM is done in that CRUSADE!

John1945 11 years, 3 months ago

The process is called an inquisition and is referred to as such in several newspaper accounts and by AG Kline himself and the special prosecutor in his filings.

Those filings however, are now apparently moot since Morrison is firing the special prosecutor and protecting his benefactor, Tiller.

deec 11 years, 3 months ago

Campaign funding by Dr. Tiller is entirely irrelevant to the issues at hand. Kline requested the records to pursue a personal agenda regarding abortion, and was stymied at every turn. Appointment of a known anti-abortion proponent was just another example of Kline's grandstanding to pander to his supporters in Operation Rescue and their ilk, as well as an effort to massage his own egotistical need for the limelight.

preebo 11 years, 3 months ago

So, I am to understand that Kline himself has verbally accused the Sedwick County District Attorney's Office of corruption? Please direct me to that gem, because I have yet you read that in the "several newpapers" you are referring to.

Oh, and John1945? According to the 2004 Harvard Law Review Alumni Law Dictionary. Inquisition is defined as follows, 1. "[a] judicial inquiry, especially in derogatory sense. 2. "[a] persistent, grueling examination without regard for the examinee's dignity or civil liberties."

No wonder Kline lost his job he is openly advocating violating a citizens civil liberties. Good Call!

John1945 11 years, 3 months ago

My, my, the ignorance on this hateful little forum is just incredible. No, Kline wasn't stymied at every turn. He was given the redacted records he requested and to preebo, how typical of a liberal to foist off some eastern misconception of what's going on in place of the actual knowledge itself.

I don't care what how your Harvard dictionary defines it, and yes the term generally has had a negative connotation, but here in good old Kansas it is a specific type of investigation available to the Attorney General used specifically to get around corrupt local officials.

How appropriate it was in this case. How unfortunate that in Wichita they let a traffic court judge determine their constitutional issues.

Kansas, as corrupt as you think it is.

preebo 11 years, 3 months ago

Liberal? Well Maybe, but how typical for a uninformed idealogue to attack the person and not the statement. I wasn't discussing connotation I was looking at legal relevance. For the record, everything eastern isn't liberal, but since you are the quintessential "red-stater" I won't attempt to inform you. What may upset you even more then your hatred for everything eastern is that I am not from Kansas and I am now an attorney with state that you and I love so much. Oh yeah, and there is no misconception of what is going on. Kline bungled procedure and he alone lost the case. There is no doubt that even if the State Supreme Court would have allowed the records to released to his office the U.S. Supreme Court would have undoubtedly reversed the decision based on mountains of precendent (if you would like I could provide you with 5 case and the rulings, immediately). So, you sir are operating under misconception, but nice try.

John1945 11 years, 3 months ago

I did attack several statements. The statement was made that Kline was stymied at every turn, he wasn't. You discussed the dictionary definition of an inquisition and I pointed out that it had a specific legal context here in the state of Kansas. now you come back and tell me that you're a practicing attorney in the state of Kansas and yet you don't know what an inquisition means here, and I find that just stunning. And you're telling me I'm uninformed? Please.

Unfortunately, Morrison seems to have had a bunch like you on his staff. perhaps that's why his conviction rate was only 65%.

Kansas, as corrupt as you think it is - because of lawyers.

Curious 11 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Kline asked Mr. Tiller to provide medical records of any abortions to underage children [by law all medical, social, and educational entities must report evidence of abuse to authorities] and records of late term abortions performed "for the health of the mother" [which must meet the definition under Kansas law]. Tiller, et al, refused to produce the records. With court help, Mr. Kline, with all his faults, found evidence that convinced him and his attorneys the matter should be decided in the courts. With the campaign funding and campaign rhetoric, he knew the case had to come to a "point of no return" if Morrison were elected. Rushing something can and does lead to shortcuts that should never be taken.

Mr. Kline and his attorneys felt laws were being broken [prosecutors must always feel a law or laws are being broken in order to prosecute a case] and took the case to the courts. Yes, laws which they agreed with. Laws which the legislature passed. Laws which have not been enforced. The abortion industry [and it is an industry where the bottom line, not the consumer, is the most important] up to, and now continuing, is a self policing industry. Which other industry that cuts people apart do we want to be self-policing?

deec 11 years, 3 months ago

Given that Kline was in office for 4 years, and was successful prosecuting NO cases with these records, I'd say he was stymied. Regardless of the funding source of Kline's opponent, Kline failed in his attempt to receive unredacted medical records. He filed NO charges correctly, and NO cases have been prosecuted. Maybe if he would have kept his law license current, instead of pursuing a vendetta against Dr. Tiller, he would have know the correct procedures to file the few charges he did file. Also, why weren't minor's live birth records accessed? How about the medical records of all minors with STDs? If, as someone posted, Morrison's conviction rate was 65%, that is still a heck of a lot better than Kline's record.

Curious 11 years, 3 months ago

Posted by deec on January 10, 2007 at 6:55 p.m. "Given that Kline was in office for 4 years, and was successful prosecuting NO cases with these records, I'd say he was stymied."

Stymied by the process? What "stymied" 35% of Morrison's cases? How many of those were never brought to trial for one reason or another? Does that mean they should never have been pursued? It happens that sometimes four years isn't enough time to wend itself through appeals and other legal maneuvers.

rhd99 11 years, 3 months ago

ENOUGH KLINE BS. Don McKinney, TAKE A HIKE, you BUM! Paul Morrison, let's get to work.

deec 11 years, 3 months ago

How many cases has Kline won in his entire career? With or without a current law license?

Curious 11 years, 3 months ago

How many cases Kline has won is rrelevant to me at this point. Leave that to Johnson County to sort out. I was trying to determine if "stymied" applied to any case that doesn't come to trial?

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