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Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Attorney denies claim about ex-A.G.’s mistress

Lawyers say Morrison was improperly influenced to file charges against Tiller

November 19, 2008

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— Former Attorney General Paul Morrison’s lawyer dismissed as “absurd” Tuesday a claim from Dr. George Tiller’s attorneys that a woman having an extramarital affair with Morrison influenced him to file criminal charges against the Wichita abortion provider.

However, Tiller’s attorneys began trying to build their case through the testimony of an investigator who was involved in two interviews with Morrison’s former mistress.

Tiller, one of a few U.S. physicians who perform late-term abortions, faces 19 misdemeanor charges alleging he failed to get a second opinion from an independent physician for some procedures, as required by Kansas law. He is scheduled to go to trial in March in Sedgwick County District Court.

But his attorneys hope to get much of the evidence suppressed or the charges dismissed, and they’ve attacked investigations of Tiller by Morrison and a previous attorney general. Morrison filed charges last year, but was forced to resign in January because of his affair. Morrison’s replacement is still pursuing the case.

Tiller’s attorneys based their claim about Morrison’s motives on a newspaper report about a statement signed by Linda Carter, his former mistress. Tiller’s lawyers have been trying to obtain the statement and have subpoenaed the reporter and a special prosecutor investigating Morrison’s conduct to get it, so far unsuccessfully.

“That is an absurd allegation,” Morrison’s attorney, Trey Pettlon, of Olathe, said during an interview. “Linda Carter had no part whatsoever in that decision.”

But Dan Monnat, a Tiller attorney, said if Pettlon is taking such a position, he should produce a copy of Carter’s statement.

“And show me where she didn’t say that,” Monnat said.

Tiller and his attorneys were in court in Sedgwick County this week for a pretrial hearing on their request to suppress evidence or have the charges dismissed. They expected to call Morrison as a witness today or Thursday.

Three attorneys general are a part of the case against Tiller: Phill Kline; Morrison; and Steve Six, who was appointed to replace Morrison after he resigned.

Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, launched an investigation shortly after taking office in 2003. Morrison, an abortion rights Democrat, defeated Kline when he ran for re-election in 2006.

Morrison had been a Republican Johnson County district attorney before switching parties to challenge Kline. Morrison had strongly criticized Kline over his investigations of abortion providers but launched what he called an independent examination before charging Tiller.

“That decision would have been based solely on the facts,” Pettlon said.

Morrison acknowledged his affair with Carter in December 2007. She has said their relationship began in September 2005 and lasted into 2007.

Before Morrison left the Johnson County district attorney’s office to become attorney general, local Republicans picked Kline to fill the vacancy. After Morrison’s affair become public, Kline appointed two special prosecutors to investigate Carter’s claims of official misconduct by Morrison, which he denies. The prosecutors haven’t announced their findings.

Kline had learned of the affair before it became public.

Thomas Williams, an investigator who worked for Kline in both the attorney general’s and district attorney’s offices, testified Tuesday he participated in two interviews with Carter after being told of the affair in late October 2007.

Williams compiled a statement from the first interview, and Carter signed it. A court reporter was present for the second session, he said.

But Williams testified he doesn’t have copies of his notes or Carter’s statements because he gave them to the special prosecutors investigating Morrison.

Tiller’s attorneys subpoenaed one of the special prosecutors, Timothy Keck, hoping to force him to produce a copy of a statement from Carter. Also receiving a subpoena was Tim Carpenter, a Topeka Capital-Journal reporter who wrote the first story about Morrison acknowledging the affair.

An attorney for The Capital-Journal is trying to get the subpoena of Carpenter quashed. An assistant attorney general is trying to do the same with the subpoena to Keck. Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens said he could rule today.

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