Maxwell Formal Complaint ( .PDF )
Topeka 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.
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.