Archive for Friday, December 5, 2008

Supreme Court blisters Kline, orders return of abortion clinic records

Justices say conduct may warrant suspension of Kline’s law license

December 5, 2008, 10:03 a.m. Updated December 5, 2008, 3:33 p.m.

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— The state Supreme Court took a first step Friday toward taking away former Attorney General Phill Kline’s law license but didn’t halt his prosecution of a suburban Kansas City abortion clinic.

And Kline, now Johnson County district attorney, said: “I am very pleased the prosecution can go forward.”

The Supreme Court ruled in a dispute over Kline’s possession of medical records from patients at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park. Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, obtained edited copies of the records as attorney general in 2003-07 but didn’t file charges against the clinic until after leaving the state job and becoming Johnson County’s prosecutor.

The Supreme Court ordered Kline, as DA, to turn over a “full and complete and understandable” set of his materials to the attorney general’s office, now held by Democrat Steve Six. But the court is allowing Kline to keep evidence he gathered against the clinic, which cheered some fellow abortion opponents.

A 5-2 majority described the court’s order to Kline as a sanction and said it was sending its ruling to the state official who handles disciplinary cases against attorneys. It said Kline’s conduct in handling the records and dealing with the Supreme Court may warrant punishment “up to and including disbarment” — a decision the court ultimately would make.

“Kline exhibits little, if any, respect for the authority of this court or for his responsibility to it and to the rule of law it husbands,” Justice Carol Beier wrote for the majority. “His attitude and behavior are inexcusable, particularly for someone who purports to be a professional prosecutor.”

Kline made only a brief statement and didn’t take questions about the case during a news conference in his Olathe office. His attorney, Caleb Stegall, of Perry, said Kline prevailed “on the substantive legal issues.”

His investigation of the Planned Parenthood clinic brought him national attention while he was attorney general. He continued his investigation after he lost his bid for re-election in 2006 and was appointed by fellow Republicans as Johnson County district attorney.

Before he gave up the state job, he transferred copies of the medical records to Johnson County. Then, in October 2007, as county prosecutor, he filed 107 charges against the Planned Parenthood clinic, including 23 felonies, alleging it falsified documents and performed illegal late-term abortions. The medical records are key evidence.

The case is pending, but Kline is leaving the county office in January because he lost the Republican primary in August. His successor as DA, Steve Howe, another Republican, declined to discuss about how he would handle the prosecution.

The clinic not only denied Kline’s allegations repeatedly but challenged his right to keep any copies of its medical records. It asked the Supreme Court to intervene even before Kline filed charges and sought to have Kline cited for contempt. Six’s office sided with the clinic.

Six issued only a short statement: “The opinion documents a sad chapter in the otherwise great history of the Kansas attorney general’s office.”

Comments

KS 6 years, 7 months ago

LJW - I never saw the word "blister" in the story. Only in the headline. What was your purpose?

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

The headline is likely directly from the AP.According to a synopsis of the ruling, the Supreme Court is suggesting sanctions and is sending a copy of its decision to the office of the discipline administrator for review.To read the opinion, go to:http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/supct/2008/20081205/98747.htm

Jonathan Kealing 6 years, 7 months ago

KS-We're still working on a story that will capture the tone of the Supreme Court's ruling. Trust me, it was harsh. I guess the headline did get ahead of the story here.Jonathan KealingOnline editor

verity 6 years, 7 months ago

I hope the ruling includes an accounting of all the copies of the records Kline has had made.Mr. Kline wants to hold everybody else accountable to his personal religious reliefs, but thinks that he is accountable to no one.

mcontrary 6 years, 7 months ago

I think "blister" was appropriate given the court's statement. However, sanctions and loss of his license to practice law is the next action that should occur from his delving into records that are supposedly protected by HIPPA for the persuit of his personal and politcal agenda. It is the next story about Phil Kline that I hope to see, whatever the headlne the LJW choses to use.

AjiDeGallina 6 years, 7 months ago

Kline is a shame of Kansas, his family, justice and a civilized society.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

This is so disappointing.Not one person on here has complained about the liberal Sebelius appointments on the Supreme Court and the Kathleen Sebelius vendetta against Phill Kline.

jehovah_bob 6 years, 7 months ago

Phil Kline's Crusade Aborted by Kansas Supreme Court

situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

So all he has to do is give the AG a complete set of records? And he gets to keep what he has? And they didn't 'sanction' him? How did the guy lose again?

jonas_opines 6 years, 7 months ago

"Seems to me he's nothing but a religious nut who used public office for his own agenda."Doesn't seem to me like there's any need for "seems to me" to appear in that line.

Rex Russell 6 years, 7 months ago

This was a judicial pimp slap of the highest degree.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

situveux1 (Anonymous) says…So all he has to do is give the AG a complete set of records? And he gets to keep what he has? And they didn't 'sanction' him? How did the guy lose again?------------------------------------Disappointment over.PS - no, he doesn't get to keep what he has. He just doesn't have to recover the records he was handing out like candy to other people.

mightyquin 6 years, 7 months ago

Not only will he have to return those records, anything in them will be prohibited from being used in any court this zealot can worm his way into.

jackpot 6 years, 7 months ago

"Kline declined to comment immediately, saying he’s still reviewing the decision. Six’s office also declined immediate conduct, for the same reason." Jonathan Kealing Online editor what "conduct" Did Six's office need to do?

ronwell_dobbs 6 years, 7 months ago

Maybe "suuuu...nnnn...aaaa.....pppp!" would be the correct pronunciation./got excited to read of Kline being kicked in the jimmy

situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

"the court is allowing Kline to keep some material, which cheered some fellow abortion opponents."Sorry, but it looks like he does get to keep the records. After reading part of the opinion, I'd agree with that. He only has to give copies, not the originals...that means he gets to keep the records.That's what I don't understand. Other than the court slamming Kline for his conduct, when it comes to the records themselves, he still gets to keep them and use them, so why is everyone so overjoyed?

situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

I knew I'd read it somewhere on Primebuzz. From the opinion...The above analysis leads us to the conclusion that CHPP and the Attorney General are not entitled to the primary relief they seek. We will not force Kline to disgorge "each and every copy" of the patient records Kline and his subordinates have made "and any and all other evidence Kline developed and obtained while he was acting as Attorney General that he took with him to Johnson County."Every news outlet that I've read says that means he doesn't have to give up the records. If he doesn't have to give them up, why is everyone so happy? I thought that was the whole point? If all a person wanted to do was kick him in the crotch, well, we didn't need the court to do that.

somebodynew 6 years, 7 months ago

situveux1 - I take that to read he is not responsible for re-gathering any copies he may have made and given to others. I think that is one of the points of what the AG was asking, that he had to be accountable for everything. I think he does have to give back the originals that he got. But then, I am not a lawyer or a judge . . . . .

situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

That could be. I'm not a lawyer either, but that was the analysis I was getting from other media outlets. If he does have to give back the records, then that doesn't explain why pro-life groups are happy with the ruling.

somebodynew 6 years, 7 months ago

Well, I guess I could have been clearer - it is alledged/rumored that Kline made copies of those records and may have given some to other (i.e. his special appointed investigator, etc.) and the AG was trying to make him responsible for getting each and every copy back. But since he has to give back the originals, the copies won't be able to be used in court proceedings as you have to have the best evidence (i.e. originals).

OzChicklet 6 years, 7 months ago

Well, there would not be a way to prove that Kline had returned all the copies. Think about it....if you were a fanatic like he is, wouldn't you keep some secret copies??? I think that the only thing that will work in this situation is to make the information in the records inadmissable in court, thus making them useless.But, I'm not an attorney, either.

justthefacts 6 years, 7 months ago

All the case did was decide Kline did nothing wrong in taking records with him, when he became DA, but the court simply ordered him to make copies to provide to the AG's office. It also questioned whether he properly transferred the records in a way that protects the integrity of any future case (it will be pretty easy for a defense attorney to attack the reliability of the data based upon chain of custody issues). And finally, the court went places that it did not need to go publicly, but decided to do so b/c they are clearly not happy with "Kline."

justthefacts 6 years, 7 months ago

The majority of the court is clearly on the other side of the political (abortion issue) aisle. It used to be that the S.Ct. took pains to appear judicial and not political. The court answered only the issues it had to, and did not go in for rhetoric or vitriolic diatribes. And that is what the two senior judges pointed out in their separately written opinions. The way they suggested handling the situation is - in my opinion (not a fact, I know) - the way Supreme Court Justicies should behave. Davis and McFarland were a lot more classy in this case. While the other justices may have personal feelings of animosity towards Kline, a true professional legal decision maker sticks to the job and rises about their own personal feelings. It's clear that some of the Justices are having a hard time doing that and they may become less effective if they don't learn to write and act more like their senior Justices. I wonder if the justices that have already made up their minds as to Kline's guilt are going to recuse themselves (based upon bias already expressed publicly) if they do get a request to sanction him.

KansasVoter 6 years, 7 months ago

When does the new DA replace Phill in JoCo? Kline is a dangerous zealot and needs to be watched closely until the new guy takes over.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 7 months ago

KS noted "I never saw the word “blister” in the story. Only in the headline."Although for the Supreme Court to write in its opinion that "Kline was demonstrably ignorant..." is pretty blistering, as is the comment "Kline has demonstrated...disingenuous and possibly orchestrated confusion...."

volunteer 6 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, Bob_Keeshan, for giving us that link. The case is heavy reading, but I agree most with Justice McFarland.Too bad she is the one resigning. I know she on occasion fell asleep on the bench(or so I heard), but she she writes an excellent opinion and is not afraid to call out the extreme liberals on the Court.

sharper 6 years, 7 months ago

Volunteer, she's not resigning, she's retiring. Kansas has mandatory retirement ages for judges, and she's met hers.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 7 months ago

I too am wondering how he got all those medical records. We signed those privacy statements all over the place when the new privacy laws went into effect. It was taken so seriously that when I took my mother to a doctor, my father called to tell me that my disabled son fell and hurt himself. The doctor's office refused to pass this message on to me for fear of compromising her privacy. On the way out the door, they casually mentioned that a man, father's name, had called and said my son, name given, was hurt and I might want to call. He was hurt bad enough that I had to take him to the ER for stitches and clean all the blood out of the carpet. So again, I ask, how did he get all those personal medical records?

willie_wildcat 6 years, 7 months ago

Autie said " I still say Kline looks too much like the actor in “Clear and Present Danger”. the one that played Ritter, the evil NSC guy."I could not agree more with that statement....Let us all pray that he never gets into any high position like that or in any position of power again...That guy was a creep to say the least. Ever since the start of the whole circus and even well before that when he started this little crusade I have despised him. Talk about an abuse of power and tax payer dollars.

notsobright 6 years, 7 months ago

Does it not bother anyone that PP may have violated the law, much FEDERAL, in as many as 107 counts?? The prosecutor has judge-approved records WITHOUT patients names! The records give further proof to the clear violations because PP went and changed them. Does this not bother anyone?? Good grief. . . If they did violate even ONE of these counts, they lose their federal dollars (our money!). I smell a "rat", and it is not Kline.So, when someone gets charged for violating the law, they get to sue the prosecutor? And no one is suppose to know about this so the courts put a gag order on it?? Sounds like a communist country does it not??PP receives 300 MILLION of our dollars to conduct an activity that ends in death and is very controversial. What makes this "industry" above the law? We can only hope that the TRUTH comes out. Whether or not he should have the records is a mute point- he does, they are clear violations, they were judge approved, his possession does not violate the law, PP stands to lose its Federal funding.

notsobright 6 years, 7 months ago

Ahhh. . . name calling. Great argument!! Look at the facts. . .

Mixolydian 6 years, 7 months ago

That was fun to read, but as a legal analysis, I'd have to go with Justice's Davis and McFarland on this one. The defendants brought a mandamus action to compel Kline to return the records to the AG's office. They won and got what they asked for. The majority opinion labeled the granted requested relief as a "sanction." The majority was every bit as political and partisan as Kline in labeling what they did as a "sanction."The mandatory retirement age for the appellate courts is a shame. In this case it hurts the citizens of Kansas because we're losing one of the best. I've really enjoyed reading Chief Justice McFarland's opinions over the years. Her majority and dissent opinions not only reflected a high level of scholarship, but real wisdom.

rhd99 6 years, 7 months ago

Kline the Kracker can get lost. Phil, go jump in a lake & take your political poison with you, you sorry excuse of a law enforcement official!

justthefacts 6 years, 6 months ago

Greek - the two judges who agreed with the ruling but who did not agree with the rest of the justice's taking up a matter (sanctions) not properly before them are the senior judges - and Davis will be the next chief. So are they wrong too? Is anyone who does not agree with you 100% always wrong? If so, it seems like you and PK may have something in common...black and white thinking....

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