Olathe Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline told a judge Thursday that he won’t take any records in a criminal case against an abortion clinic with him when he leaves office.
But Kline’s testimony under oath during a district court hearing didn’t satisfy attorneys for the clinic, operated by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park. They said they’re most concerned about protecting the privacy of 29 patients whose medical files have become key evidence in the criminal case Kline filed.
The clinic faces 107 charges, alleging it falsified documents and performed illegal late-term abortions, which it denies. Planned Parenthood attorneys unsuccessfully challenged Kline’s right to keep edited copies of patient records, but last month they subpoenaed Kline, hoping to force him to produce a detailed accounting for his evidence.
Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, leaves office Monday, having lost an August primary. Clinic attorneys told District Judge Stephen Tatum that they want to prevent Kline from taking records with him and distributing them to others.
“Do you intend to take any of these records with you when you leave office?” Tatum asked Kline.
Kline replied: “No, sir.”
Kline obtained the records while serving as Kansas attorney general in 2003-07. After losing his race for re-election in 2006, he had the records transferred to Johnson County, where he had been appointed to fill a vacancy in the district attorney’s office.
Tatum on Thursday declined a request from clinic attorney Pedro Irigonegaray to order Kline not to discuss what he knows about the records in public.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, was pleased that Tatum wouldn’t go as far as Irigonegaray wanted but remained frustrated at his ongoing efforts to block a trial. “When abortion is involved, the rules change,” she said.
A trial isn’t likely for months. The next hearing, Feb. 19, is to determine where the case stands.