Wichita A Wichita doctor accused of unlawfully performing late-term abortions is opposing a request by the Kansas attorney general's office for more time to respond to a defense motion seeking to suppress evidence in the case.
Attorneys for Dr. George Tiller told a Sedgwick County judge Friday that the prosecution's claims that it cannot respond until 30 days after an evidentiary hearing is held and transcribed was bizarre.
Tiller, who is among the nation's few late-term abortion providers, moved earlier this month to suppress evidence or dismiss the criminal case against him, claiming outrageous conduct in the initial investigation by former state Attorney General Phill Kline.
Defense attorneys contend Kline targeted Tiller and other abortion providers for prosecution from the day he took office in January 2003. The request for more time was filed Thursday by current Attorney General Steven Six.
Tiller faces 19 misdemeanor charges for allegedly breaking a 1998 state law requiring that a second, independent Kansas physician sign off on most late-term abortions.
Six's office contends the "facts" on which the defense bases its legal arguments are simply allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, and that it would be improper for the court to base a decision on mere allegations.
Prosecutors argued that they not know what facts will be proven, making it "very difficult" for the state to respond.
Defense attorneys countered on Friday with their own filings objecting to any extensions, saying their evidence is based on thousands of pages of discovery that the state has had in its possession for far longer than Tiller.
"The state's highly unusual request suggests that the state simply wishes to delay being forced to admit publicly the extent of the former AG's misconduct," the defense wrote. "This case has been pending long enough, and the state must contend sooner rather than later with the facts as they are. The state's fanciful hope that its case will be better after the hearing is no basis for delaying the inevitable."
Separately, Six's office also sought to delay the evidentiary hearing after replacing its own prosecutor, Veronica Dersch, on the case. The new prosecutor, Barry Disney, said he has a scheduling conflict the week of Nov. 17.
Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for Six, said Friday that given the defense motion, Dersch was a potential witness, making it appropriate to have Disney to take over the prosecution.
"He is an experienced prosecutor that will continue to move the case forward," Anstaett said in an e-mail.
The charges were filed in June 2007 by then-Attorney General Paul Morrison, based on the investigation conducted earlier by Kline. Six inherited the case after Morrison stepped down amid a sexual scandal.
Defense attorneys oppose postponing the evidentiary hearing, saying it will delay the trial now set to start next March 16. The defense contended Tiller has not waived his speedy-trial rights beyond the current trial date.
Tiller is accused of violating the state's late-term abortion law requiring two doctors, without financial or legal ties, to determine independently that continuing a pregnancy would put a woman at risk of death or "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," which has been interpreted to include mental health.
Tiller relied on Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, of Nortonville and who formerly practiced in Lawrence. Prosecutors contend Neuhaus had a financial relationship with Tiller that violated the law.