Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Attorney general’s office says some of the case against Tiller was flawed

June 27, 2007

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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."

Comments

Linda Endicott 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, Tiller is performing abortions, purplesage...so are thousands of other doctors in Kansas.

But it is LEGAL. It has been legal for a long time. What part of that don't you understand?

If you don't agree with abortion, then I suggest you not have one.

And if you want to change the law, then you need to find a much better person than Phil "I am the poster boy for stupidity" Kline to lead the charge.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 2 months ago

and away they go I am going to be interested in all the post to come. Have at it everyone.

trinity 8 years, 2 months ago

all i want to know is when are the good folk of joco going to once&for all realize the egregious error made in putting philll in the DA seat when he's obviously not able to handle the job?? i just don't get it.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

"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."

Doesn't that still mean that , in four instances, viable fetuses were aborted?

petunia 8 years, 2 months ago

"And it sounds like the defense firm of Tiller, Monnat and Morrison has been at work," Kline said.

The article fails to include Kline's next statement, "I'm rubber and you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you."

dirkleisure 8 years, 2 months ago

"With 11 of his counts, Kline did not include information that he had that was favorable to Tiller."

Anybody know what that is called? It is called exculpatory evidence.

Anybody know what former DA Nifong in North Carolina, he of the famous Duke lacrosse case, was disbarred for, among other lapses similar to Kline's conduct in this case?

I'll give you a hint: starts with "ex" and ends with "culpatory evidence."

As for the law firm quote from Kline, guess it sucks for him that an assistant attorney general led the investigation, and was in fact the only individual with access to the files. Contrast that with the way Kline handled this case, sharing files with almost anyone. In fact, I'm guessing some of the posters on this board have copies!

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 2 months ago

Trinity don't you know that Kline is the darling of the religious right? This was an unwinable case from the outset. Had Tiller been convicted it would have gone straight to appeal on procedural error after procedural error. Most disturbing are the allegations that Kline lied and engaged in unethical behavior. I don't doubt the truth of it. Personally I think Kline's actions rank up there with Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph. No he didn't try to physically bomb Tiller's clinic but he tried to use the law as a sword instead of a shield, a philosophy historically abjured in US case law. I sincerely hope that Morrison pursues his investigation of Klines actions. There could be criminal charges in it for the JOCO DA. At the very least he could be disbarred. JOCO could end up in the curious position of having a DA unable to step foot in a courtroom in an official capacity. Interestingly enough Kline himself addressed that possibility. At one point he stated Kansas law does not require an AG to be a licensed attorney. Why would he say that? Is he even now preparing for the possibility that he will no longer be able to practice law?

nekansan 8 years, 2 months ago

"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.

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,"

11+4=15

So this accounts for all of the cases that were addressed in the latest statement by the AG's office........

hammysammy 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot- that means that KLINE ALLEGED that four viable fetuses were aborted. Wrongly.

feeble 8 years, 2 months ago

hammysammy & Godot:

To go a bit further with that particular part of this story, the following can be found in the KC Star's version:

"In four cases, Morrison's office says, Kline investigators mistakenly copied state health records in a way that made it appear as if Tiller might be violating the law.

The two-sided reports were copied by Kline's office and somehow, the front side of one report was then attached to the back side of another. The resulting discrepancies made it look as if Tiller was failing to report all the details of the case, according to Anstaett.

"It's hard to imagine a competent attorney making the same mistake four times," she said." http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/167403.html

Kline (or someone in his office) doctored the files given to the judge.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 2 months ago

I am so surprised I thought about 100 posts' by now.

trinity 8 years, 2 months ago

i'm glad you posted that link, ihatejohntravolta(he was really good in "the punisher" btw, lol). i posted it last week when i first read the article; it kicks patootie to be sure. and exposes yet more of phillll's incompetence.

Ragingbear 8 years, 2 months ago

Not only is the DA in the Duke Lacrosse case disbarred, but he is getting criminal charges filed against him for his conduct in the case. Which in a few instances included violating a gag order.

So I guess that Phil Kline won't get that because he didn't violate any gag order. Oh, that's right. He did.

And Johnson county is being ran by a bunch of inbred cockroaches that don't have a clue that Phil Kline is a monster and should have never been appointed DA. Especially in light of the fact that the people actually voted for the other guy in the election.

Ragingbear 8 years, 2 months ago

Nah. Bunch of rich spoiled snobs in Johnson County. So they will just find new puppets to put in.

purplesage 8 years, 2 months ago

Yawn. Who really expected AG Morrison to prosecute Tiller? But wake up! Now, not only are they continuing the election year attacks on Phill Kline, both his character and his legal ability, but they are suggesting HE is the one who needs to be prosecuted!

This is NOT the Duke lacrosse team. Nifong ruined several lives, his own included. Those young men did NOT assault the alleged victim, though at least some of them may have enjoyed her show. A rape did not occur. And DA Nifong prosecuted, knowing they had not committed the crime.

Tiller is doing abortions. He did them today, and he will do them tomorrow. He needs to be stopped. He is, for all intents and purposes, untouchable and spent a lot of money to stay that way.

I am reminded of the ancient indictment of Isaiah, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:19-21)

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

What is the moral justification for poisoning a viable fetus?

Baille 8 years, 2 months ago

"Why am I not surprised by Morrison's findings???"

Because Phill is an idiott?

Baille 8 years, 2 months ago

Kline is just true to form:

"In his initial response to this court's Order to Show Cause, the attorney general contended that the documents attached to his brief were "but a very small fraction of the entire record before the lower court in the inquisition; we attached only what we believed necessary to support our arguments in this segment of the proceedings." As for the news conference, Kline asserted that he "stressed the privacy protections put in place by the lower court and the law to prevent public disclosure of the medical records sought. . . . I did not refer to the transcript of the lower court's hearing, nor did I provide it at the news conference. Later that day, my communications director, after our brief had been filed, provided the transcript electronically to those who requested a copy." He argued that "it was seemingly inconsistent to keep these pleadings under seal while at the same time suggesting that oral argument was likely." Kline also argued that the press conference was "necessitated by the false impression left by the public filing of Petitioners' brief and [Petitioners'] representation of the record."

"Kline's initial responses were troubling. He admitted that he attached sealed court records to a brief he knew would be unsealed; that he did so knowingly because, in his sole estimation, he believed it to be necessary to further his arguments; that he held a press conference on this criminal matter merely because he determined that petitioners had painted his previous actions in an unflattering light; and that he later permitted his staff to provide electronic copies of the sealed transcript to anyone who requested them. In essence, Kline has told this court that he did what he did simply because he believed that he knew best how he should behave, regardless of what this court had ordered, and that his priorities should trump whatever priorities this court had set. Furthermore, although there is conflict between the parties on exactly what was said in the press conference, i.e. whether the actual content of the sealed documents was discussed, Kline's stated reason for holding the conference -- to combat what he saw as unflattering earlier press coverage -- does not appear to be among the permissible reasons for an attorney in his position to engage in extrajudicial statements under Kansas Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6 (2005 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 473). This too is troubling."

http://www.kscourts.org/kscases/supct/2006/20060203/93383.htm

Ragingbear 8 years, 2 months ago

I love how the pro-stupidity people keep jumping up and down arguing that he is guilty of a crime because he runs an abortion clinic. That is not the case here. The case was whether or not he performed the procedure illegally.

Of course, stupid people would have trouble even understanding that.

dirkleisure 8 years, 2 months ago

@purplesage:

quote - " And DA Nifong prosecuted, knowing they had not committed the crime.

Tiller is doing abortions. He did them today, and he will do them tomorrow. He needs to be stopped"

Doing abortions is not a crime. Or do you have a copy of the records, too?

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