TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A criminal case previously filed against the state's best-known abortion provider was based partly on incorrect or incomplete information, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said Wednesday.
Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for Attorney General Paul Morrison, also suggested Morrison's predecessor, Phill Kline, engaged in "unethical" behavior in attempting to prosecute Dr. George Tiller.
She said 15 of 30 misdemeanor charges that Kline filed against Tiller in December in Sedgwick County District Court were flawed. Kline had alleged that Tiller, one of the few U.S. doctors performing late-term abortions, performed 15 illegal late-term abortions and failed to report the details to state officials.
Anstaett's comments Wednesday dealt only with the 15 charges involving reporting violations. Morrison plans to announce later this week whether he'll file any charges against Tiller.
With 11 of his counts, Kline did not include information that he had that was favorable to Tiller. In four other cases, Anstaett said, Kline cited the wrong patient records to back up his charges.
Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, lost the November general election to Morrison, an abortion-rights Democrat, and abortion opponents don't trust Morrison to pursue Tiller aggressively. Kline is now serving as Johnson County district attorney.
Told of Anstaett's comments, Kline called them predictable and said, "Paul's depiction is false."
"And it sounds like the defense firm of Tiller, Monnat and Morrison has been at work," Kline said. Dan Monnat, a Wichita attorney, represents Tiller.
When Morrison took office on Jan. 8, he launched his own investigation, but abortion opponents have tried to pressure Morrison into refiling Kline's criminal case.
Anstaett said an assistant attorney general reviewed 10,000 pages of documents, subpoenaed additional records Kline had not sought and interviewed new witnesses.
"The call to refile Kline's original 30 charges is misinformed and irresponsible," Anstaett said in an interview Wednesday. "The case was not organized, summarized and ready to go, as Kline claims. This couldn't be further from the truth."
Morrison's investigation of Tiller took almost six months partly because Kline didn't leave a case file when he left the attorney general's office and because of how Kline handled patient records, Anstaett said. Edited copies of records from Tiller's clinic were deposited in numerous locations.
"Kline's irresponsible and careless treatment of the records inhibited our investigation from Day One," she said.
She also said Morrison had to do a thorough investigation because of "glaring errors" in the case Kline filed against Tiller in Sedgwick County District Court.
In 11 counts against Tiller, Kline alleged that the doctor had failed to properly report to the Department of Health and Environment the reasons justifying a late-term abortion of a fetus that could survive outside the womb.
Under a 1998 law, in such circumstances, two doctors must conclude that continuing a patient's pregnancy would result in either her death or "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," a phrase interpreted to include mental health.
But Morrison's office found that for each of those 11 counts, not only did KDHE accept the reason Tiller listed on the form - the agency helped him fill them out, Anstaett said. Kline knew that but didn't include in an affidavit filed in district court, spelling out his case, she said.
Kline and other abortion opponents have noted repeatedly that a Sedgwick County judge found probable cause to believe that Tiller might have broken the law before Kline filed his case - with a second judge dismissing the case.
Anstaett said it's unethical to omit information favorable to a defendant in an affidavit accompanying a criminal case.
"These 11 counts were ridiculous," she said. "A finding of probable cause is based on the information provided to the judge. That's why it's critical that all evidence is provided."
In four other charges, Kline alleged that Tiller said a fetus he aborted was not viable - and therefore avoided giving a justification - when in fact the fetus was viable. Anstaett said Kline cited the wrong patient's record in each case.
"It is hard to imagine that a competent attorney would make the same mistake four times," Anstaett said. "At best, it was gross negligence. At worst, it was an intentional act."