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Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Six getting settled in new role

February 6, 2008

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— Kansas, get used to an attorney general who doesn't act like the new sheriff in town.

Stephen Six, 42, of Lawrence, has been on the job less than a week and is getting familiar with all the employees, legal cases and the Legislature.

He was also trying to find the office thermostat as he took time to conduct a few media interviews Tuesday.

But the former judge and trial attorney seems unruffled by all the changes.

He deadpans that "it was a little bit of an unusual situation" that brought him to the job.

Six had been a state district court judge in Douglas County when he was chosen by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to replace Paul Morrison, who was elected attorney general in 2006 but resigned in the wake of a sex scandal.

Six was sworn into office last week by his father, Fred Six, a retired Kansas Supreme Court justice.

Now, Six is going from meeting to meeting to get up to speed on the issues facing the attorney general's office.

The office is responsible for defending the state's legal interests, which includes enforcement of consumer protection and charitable solicitation acts. The office is also a key law enforcement agency, often prosecuting capital murder cases.

A high-profile case left over from Morrison centers on misdemeanor charges filed against abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, alleging Tiller violated the state's late-term abortion law. Tiller has denied the charges.

Six said an attorney who has been handling that case will remain on it.

But Six said he is adamant about protecting the names of women whose medical records have been at the center of several long-standing legal battles sought by anti-abortion groups.

"I'm very concerned about the privacy of patients' medical records, and I'm going to do everything I can to help maintain the privacy that goes along with patient-doctor medical records," he said.

In other areas, Six is talking about implementing some changes.

He said he would like to beef up consumer protection, with an increased focus on crime that occurs over the Internet.

"It really encompasses a whole variety of areas of addressing the needs of Kansas," he said.

Six said his background helps him on both the criminal and civil side of the law.

Prior to his three years as a judge, where he presided over criminal cases, he worked on complex civil litigation as an attorney.

That is most of what the attorney general's office works on - complicated lawsuits, such as fights with other states over water rights.

Unaccustomed to the rough-and-tumble of elective politics, Six declined to say whether he would run for election as attorney general in 2010, but he said the office would benefit from "not having a transition every four years."

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