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Archive for Monday, September 21, 2009

Former state assistant attorney general faces ethics complaint

September 21, 2009, 10:42 a.m. Updated September 21, 2009, 4:15 p.m.

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Maxwell Formal Complaint ( .PDF )

— A key lieutenant of former Attorney General Phill Kline misled the judge who approved Kline’s investigation into abortion providers, according to a complaint released Monday.

Kline’s abortion investigation led to years of legal wrangling that eventually resulted in a jury acquitting abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in March of misdemeanor charges of violating state restrictions on late-term abortion. About two months later, on May 31, Tiller was shot and killed in his church. Anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder awaits trial in the case.

Kline, defeated in his 2006 re-election for attorney general, is now a visiting law professor at the Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va.

Meanwhile, the fight over how Kline’s investigation was handled continues in Kansas before the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys, the agency that oversees investigations into allegations of attorney misconduct.

Ethics charges

On Monday, Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett leveled ethics charges against Stephen Maxwell, who served as an assistant attorney general under Kline, and as an assistant district attorney for Kline when Kline became Johnson County DA after leaving the state job.

The 15-page complaint says Kline, shortly after taking office as attorney general in 2003, said he wanted to investigate abortion providers based on the allegation that abortion providers were not reporting underage pregnant girls to authorities as having been the victims of sexual abuse. Abortion providers have long accused Kline of improprieties, saying the investigation stemmed from his political opposition to abortion, and not from evidence of any wrongdoing.

In getting Shawnee County Chief District Court Judge Richard Anderson to approve a secret inquisition into abortion providers in 2003, Maxwell swore under oath that there were more than 1,700 incidents of suspected abuse not reported that should have been.

“The Respondent (Maxwell) knew that the statistical information contained in his representations to the court were misleading, however, he did not take any action to correct his representations or correct the misunderstanding of the court,” the complaint says.

Boss defends attorney

Maxwell, who is now a senior assistant district attorney in Reno County, could not be reached for comment.

His boss, Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder said Maxwell was on military exercises as a member of the Kansas National Guard.

Schroeder defended Maxwell’s reputation, saying he had been named Kansas’ 2006 County and District Attorney Prosecutor of the Year, had done a tour of duty in the current Iraq war and Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

“He has probably handled as many homicide cases as anyone in the state,” Schroeder said. “I’m sure there will be an investigation and a hearing and he’ll have a right to due process,” he said.

The complaint also stated that in another hearing before Judge Anderson in 2006, Maxwell, wanting to gain access to abortion records, allowed an attorney general special agent to claim that a 10-year-old patient from California had received an abortion from Tiller’s clinic and that the child’s pregnancy had never been reported as abuse.

But Maxwell “knew as early as March 2005, one year earlier, that the child pregnancy had been reported,” and that the perpetrator had been prosecuted, according to the complaint.

And the complaint alleged that Maxwell had failed to tell the judge when private medical records of women who had abortions had been transferred to the Johnson County district attorney’s office.

The complaint also alleged Maxwell of wrongdoing in a Johnson County grand jury investigation of the Planned Parenthood clinic, which Kline was investigating,

In 2007, the complaint alleges, the presiding juror of the Johnson County grand jury asked Maxwell, as its legal adviser, to provide background on a court decision that involved Kline and Maxwell. The complaint says Maxwell failed to provide a federal court decision that could have had an impact on the grand jury’s work.

The Board for Discipline of Attorneys has scheduled a hearing for Maxwell for Feb. 17-18. A board panel will decide whether Maxwell violated the state’s code of conduct for attorneys and make a recommendation to the Kansas Supreme Court, which could revoke his attorney license, order lesser sanctions, or level no sanction.

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 3 months ago

"abortion providers"

I think the state-run AP means abortionists.

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

What is the complaint about Maxwell, no mention of it other than he was associated with whacko Kline. Kline is the one that needs to be investigated, but he's hiding away in "old Virginee", spewing his right-wing religious fundamentalist crap at Liberty U.

ralphralph 5 years, 3 months ago

So, um ... what is the substance of the complaint?
This story is like saying, "Joe Blow, an associate of someone controversial, is accused of doing something wrong. There will be a hearing." Not altogether informative. What is the accusation? Is it a secret?

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

What is the complaint about Maxwell, no mention of it other than he was associated with whacko Kline. Kline is the one that needs to be investigated, but he's hiding away in "old Virginee", spewing his right-wing fundalmentalist crap at Liberty U.

Todd Hiatt 5 years, 3 months ago

According to http://www.hutchnews.com/Latestlocalnews/maxwellhearing:

The complaint against Maxwell alleges that in October 2003, he filed an application to open a court-supervised inquisition with a Shawnee County judge, using statistics to suggest abortion providers weren’t properly reporting sexual abuse of children. Soon after, the complaint alleges, Maxwell learned the statistics were “obviously flawed” but didn’t correct his application.

The complaint also alleges that Maxwell appeared before the same judge in 2006 and discussed the case of a 10-year-old abortion patient, suggesting the abuse of that patient may not have been reported properly. The complaint notes the abuse was reported and the abuser, prosecuted successfully.

In 2007, the complaint alleges, the presiding juror of the Johnson County grand jury asked Maxwell, as its legal adviser, to supply background on relevant court decisions. The complaint says Maxwell failed to provide a federal court decision – involving both Kline and Maxwell – that could have posed a problem for the investigation.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 3 months ago

I can promise there will be more stories like this about these so called Kansas US attorneys....... Is this not the same stuff I have been saying all along !?

justthefacts 5 years, 3 months ago

Ah, I'm pretty sure that Maxwell was working at the AG's office when Kline took office (under Carla Stovall). And he was a Kansas prosecutor during the period in question, not a federal one. Facts people. Get them.

Jimo 5 years, 3 months ago

“He has probably handled as many homicide cases as anyone in the state,” Schroeder said.

Because we all know that after you handle a certain number of homicide cases, you're incapable of being a zealot blinded by bias.

“I’m sure there will be an investigation and a hearing and he’ll have a right to due process,” he said.

This complaint already contains a significant amount of due process. For example, the last complaint about the grand jury: Maxwell was asked directly for the information, failed to provide the relevant case, the relevant case had Kline's name all over it, Maxwell assisted Kline in the case, and Maxwell provided NO explanation why it would have not been turned over to the grand jury, other than of course that it went against the point Maxwell was trying to get the grand jury to buy into. I'm not sure what more "due process" Schroeder is looking for other than saying that Stan Hazlett should have just turned a blind eye to this willfully deceitful misconduct.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 3 months ago

Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder defended Maxwell’s reputation...

Um, no. The only reputation DA Schroeder is defending here is his own.

When he hired Maxwell, many people asked why Maxwell was so eager to leave his job in the JoCo DA office and take a $50,000/year pay cut. Apparently it was because only Schroeder was dumb enough to hire him.

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