Archive for Monday, February 21, 2011

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline argues deception OK in abortion clinics investigation

February 21, 2011, 12:29 a.m. Updated February 22, 2011, 12:15 a.m.

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Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and his wife, Deborah, arrive for a hearing before a state panel on a professional ethics complaint against him, Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, in Topeka, Kan. The complaint before a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys stems from Kline's investigations of abortion providers while in office.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and his wife, Deborah, arrive for a hearing before a state panel on a professional ethics complaint against him, Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, in Topeka, Kan. The complaint before a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys stems from Kline's investigations of abortion providers while in office.

— Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline testified Monday in an ethics hearing that he and his subordinates had the right to deceive other state agencies and didn’t have a duty to immediately correct flawed information provided to a trial judge as they started investigating abortion providers.

Kline faced more than three hours of questions from an official who filed an ethics complaint against him, stemming from investigations Kline pursued as attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and as Johnson County district attorney from 2007 to 2009.

The three-member panel of the state Board for the Discipline of Attorneys that opened the hearing Monday will make a recommendation to the Kansas Supreme Court on what sanctions, if any, Kline should face. The complaint alleges Kline and subordinates misled other officials and mishandled patients’ medical records in investigating the late Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, and a Planned Parenthood clinic in suburban Kansas City.

Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, vigorously disputes the allegations, but said he’s not surprised to face a complaint because of past criticism of him by the clinics and other abortion rights advocates.

Part of his testimony Monday focused on the beginning of his investigations of the two clinics in 2003, just months after he became attorney general. Suspecting the clinics weren’t reporting cases of sexual abuse of children to authorities as required by law, his staff sought information about abuse reports from the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

His staff wouldn’t fully disclose to SRS why it sought the information, and the complaint alleges Kline’s staff misled SRS officials.

In testimony, Kline wouldn’t concede SRS had been deceived, but added that he viewed SRS as a potential witness. He said courts regularly allow law enforcement officials to withhold information from witnesses — and even actively deceive them and suspects — to protect an investigation. Misleading SRS, he said, “would not have been a problem.”

“That is reasonable. That is normal conduct,” he testified, his voice rising. “It was appropriate.”

Kline filed misdemeanor charges against Tiller in December 2006, accusing the doctor of performing illegal late-term abortions and failing to adequately report the details to the state, as required by law. The case was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons, and Kline’s successor filed different misdemeanor charges the following year.

Tiller was acquitted in 2009, shortly before being murdered while attending church.

A criminal case against the Planned Parenthood clinic, filed by Kline as Johnson County district attorney in 2007, is pending. The clinic denies the allegations in the 107 charges that it performed illegal abortions and falsified records.

Kline lost his bid for re-election as attorney general in 2006; Republicans selected him to fill a vacancy in the Johnson County job, but he lost the 2008 GOP primary for the post. He’s now an assisting visiting professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell.

The state Supreme Court — which already has criticized Kline in opinions in abortion cases — could impose no sanction, or a punishment ranging from an informal admonishment to the loss of his license to practice in state courts. But Kline’s license was suspended in October after he didn’t pay a $50 annual fee.

“I don’t believe I should be here, and I didn’t want to pay you money,” Kline told state Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett during his testimony.

The complaint notes under Kline, the attorney general’s office successfully sought in October 2003 to open a court-supervised “inquisition” into the clinics, based partly on data from SRS. The inquisition allowed Kline to seek subpoenas for documents or testimony.

Nine days later, an internal memo showed Kline’s staff knew the SRS data was flawed, but his office didn’t inform the judge until May 2004, nearly seven months later.

“Shouldn’t you immediately inform the judge?” Hazlett asked.

Kline replied: “I don’t know if that duty exists.”

Kline noted his office told the judge the next time it sought a subpoena, arguing it fulfilled the requirement to make a correction. He noted that when Tiller’s attorneys raised the same issue in trying to block the doctor’s prosecution, the judge ruled the criminal case still should go forward.

“We just have a difference of opinion about the duties of a prosecutor,” Kline told Hazlett.

Kline said his complaint “parroted” arguments made by Tiller attorney Dan Monnat in 2008 in an unsuccessful attempt at getting the criminal case against Tiller dismissed.

And in his opening statement, Kline attorney Reid Holbrook even guided the panel through similar passages in both. Later, Hazlett said his complaint contained numerous allegations not included in Monnat’s work.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline says he's not surprised to be facing a professional ethics complaint over his past investigations of abortion providers.

A three-member state panel began a hearing Monday on the complaint against Kline. It accuses him and subordinates of misleading other officials to further his investigations, and of mishandling patients' medical records.

Kline said during a break in Monday's proceeding that he strongly disputes those allegations. He attributes much of what's in the complaint to criticism of him by an attorney for the late abortion provider Dr. Tiller of Wichita.

As attorney general, Kline investigated Tiller and a Planned Parenthood clinic in suburban Kansas City.

One of Kline's attorneys, Reid Holbrook, spent much of his opening statement comparing the text of the ethics complaints to a motion filed by Monnat in 2008, seeking to dismiss misdemeanor charges filed against Tiller by Kline's successor as attorney general.

Holbrook accused disciplinary administrator Stanton Hazlett of "cutting and pasting" much of the text from Monnat's motion into the ethics complaint.

"There is a clear pattern where Mr. Hazlett is going to follow and go down the motion to dismiss," Holbrook said. "The language used by Mr. Hazlett is substantially the same."

The panel, members of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys, will decide whether Kline breached professional ethics and, if it does, recommend sanctions to the Kansas Supreme Court. The justices — who've been critical of Kline in the past — would decide what punishment, if any, to impose, including an informal admonishment, public censure or even the loss of his license to practice in state courts.

Monnat is listed as a witness in the ethics hearing, and Hazlett acknowledged many of the allegations in the complaint are based on criticism from Tiller's attorney.

Holbrook led the panel through sections of the complaint and show how they incorporated language in Monnat's work. In one, case, a lengthy footnote in the complaint is taken word-for-word, but for the correction of a typographical error.

But Hazlett said he didn't know why the similarities between the ethics complaint and Monnat's work are relevant because "these are two different proceedings."

And he also said in his opening statement that "the rules obviously require a lawyer to be truthful to the courts."

Holbrook also spent part of his time discussing Kline's record as attorney general, attempting to dispel what he said is the mistaken notion that Kline concentrated only on pursuing abortion providers.

"I think that the evidence is going to be that Phill Kline did a good job as attorney general of this state," he said.

A criminal case Kline filed in 2007 against the Planned Parenthood clinic is still pending. Tiller was acquitted of misdemeanor criminal charges in 2009, shortly before he was murdered while attending church in Wichita.

Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, was attorney general from 2003 to 2007. He served as Johnson County district attorney for two years after that, and he's now a visiting assistant law professor at Liberty University.

Kline's investigations of Tiller and Planned Parenthood led to lengthy legal battles between him and their clinics — and three major Supreme Court decisions in the past five years. Elected attorney general in 2002, he lost his bid for re-election in 2006, only to have fellow Republicans appoint him Johnson County district attorney. But he lost the GOP primary for that office in 2008.

The ethics complaint against Kline, filed by Hazlett last year, cites more than 20 instances in which it says Kline or subordinates misled others, including a grand jury in Johnson County and, once in Kline's case, the disciplinary administrator's office.

Another key issue is the handling of edited copies of medical records for 89 patients from the clinics, obtained in 2006 through subpoenas. The Supreme Court has previously criticized Kline, suggesting he and his subordinates didn't show enough regard for patients' privacy.

Comments

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

You have not been civil a single day of your life, unless you were in a coma at some point that I do not know about.

Your shock at the nature of the dialogue of a man that took our tax dollars to fund his own private agenda against state law....that invaded the Constitutional rights to privacy of many Kansas women..is simply hogwash.

What the hell is wrong with you Tom, do you think your comment do anything but make you look dishonest and two faced?

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

“We believe that the facts are in dispute,” said Mark Stafford, one of Kline’s attorneys. “The factual issues are going to be discussed without emphasizing political motives, but yet, the politics are brutal.”


The politics are only "brutal" in so far as any censure will be blamed on "politics", a symbolic swipe at the disciplinary committee. This is despite the fact that the committee is nonpartisan and a fact finding body only. They do not discipline attorneys but only make recommendations to the state Supreme Court who then decide the actual level of discipline. Given that he has already been found to have "misled" (read "lied to") the state Supreme Court itself, and "misled" (read "lied to") the disciplinary committee, I don't think the discipline itself will be pretty. However, even if the state Supreme Court goes so far as to outright disbar him from practicing law that doesn't mean that he can never practice law in this state again. There are provisions whereby he can regain his law license. Nor does it mean that he can't get a license and practice law in another state. Nor does it mean he can no longer teach law, as (amazingly) a barrister's license is not required to teach. The ABA is not a national governing body. There is no national standardized bar exam and laws on licensure vary from state to state just as laws vary from state to state. What does all of this mean? It means that Kline could care less about this. They aren't going to "ruin" his career. He fled this state with no intention of coming back. He has his cushy little berth at Jerry Falwell's school. You can't slap someone upside the head if they are out of reach.

rtwngr 4 years, 1 month ago

Save your breath about the "nonpartisan" fact finding body. They are appointed by a pro abortion Kansas Supreme Court that was appointed by a pro abortion governor named Kathleen Sebelius.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

And yet now we have half a dozen other kline klones running our state.

I fear for Kansas.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 1 month ago

Not only that, they have littered the state with former Kline staffers including placing some of his disgraced attorneys into top-ranking positions in state agencies.

I wonder, why doesn't the Journal World report on that?

meggers 4 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps you should be forced into indentured servitude for a period of 20 years. Let's see how "self-centered" you feel it is then to lie claim to one's own body.

meggers 4 years, 1 month ago

Actually, I don't have children and I have never had an abortion. I happen to love kids and people who know me find me to be a very caring person. Got any more straw men?

deec 4 years, 1 month ago

I on the other hand have given birth to four children and had a God-given abortion (that's a miscarriage to you), and I am pro-choice.

Ceallach 4 years, 1 month ago

Really? You think they are the same? A miscarriage happens after an unborn baby dies -- an abortion causes the unborn baby to die. Seems different to me.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I suggest you look up the term "spontaneous abortion", Ceallach. You couldn't be more wrong.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

80% of all pregnancies end in "miscarriage"; 30% pre implantation and 50% post. Most happen so early the woman doesn't even know she got pregnant. There is not "alive" or "dead" to it.

meggers 4 years, 1 month ago

I don't think you do- not by a long shot.

notanota 4 years, 1 month ago

Volunteer your womb to gestate them.

fearsadness14 4 years, 1 month ago

I would simply like to point out that no one is ever PRO ABORTION. There is pro-choice.

Tom, what right do you have to tell someone else they can't get an abortion? Why do you believe what you believe?

There are those of us out there who feel that there is indeed a necessity for separation of church and state, and an argument of "the bible says life begins at the moment of conception" isn't a good enough answer. Sorry for those of you pushing your religious beliefs on others in the form of laws. I'll take my public education and public college degrees (socialist idea, GASP!) and you can find me in Norway.

kansanjayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

not true there are pro-abortion people out there!

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

No comments on his conduct, I see. And his attitude of deception.

Mike1949 4 years, 1 month ago

Things are going to get interesting as WE DO have Kline CLONES running the state now. I seriously fear for pregnant women here in KS as the abortion laws are going to change and discriminate.

rtwngr 4 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, but you don't fear for the child (human) they carry. (And it is a child.)

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

I take it that you support not only forced birthing, but a variety of social programs to help pregnant women and their children, both before and after the birth?

Getaroom 4 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 1 month ago

Awwww, somebody got his feelers hurt. Here, have a Life Saver. It'll make you feel better.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see your take on his actions and attitudes.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Facts are facts.

Civility is an attitude, and a mode of discussion.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

I got it

The Kline Klones of Kansas...the KKK

It all makes sense now.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

Hey, whatever your name is today.

Margaret Sanger was a racist. I agree.

Now...tell me

How does that make today´s Planned Parenthood a racist? Or are you just trying to play emotion and remain devoid of facts to pull heartstrings?

Further, it does not the FACT that Kline, the the person in charge of punishing those who did not follow Kansas law....broke it.

However, it is quite clear that your forcing women to breed against their will is MUCH MORE in line with Hitler than allowing women control over their own bodies.

Ceallach 4 years, 1 month ago

I believe Sanger delicately worded it as weeding the garden.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

Unless an until you can prove that choice is targed by race, you are a fraud and a liar.

A liar in the name of God.

You fail God on all levels.

Check abortions on economic status...but the bottom line is

It is none of your damn business if a woman has an abortion or not, a fetus is NOT a child.

Jimo 4 years, 1 month ago

It's sort of sad to see Kline held responsible for a few lies here and there while every month we read the headlines about one Wall Streeter or another who won't be prosecuted for creating a global financial panic costing trillions of dollars through systemic fraud, deceit, and bribery.

Unlike corruption and the big banks (or torture), Kline's wrongdoing was all Republican and so the Dems have no incentive to work behind the scenes 'to go easy' on Kline. Meanwhile, an Administration claiming to be about transparency, accountability, and good gov't refuse to take on open and unapologetic corruption, the latest being Countrywide - the epicenter of mortgage fraud: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/business/20mozilo.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=business&adxnnlx=1298304064-y5aPtblEyOYf3Z0+cQw1aA

Maybe letting Kline inflict damage on whoever would attend Liberty U should be counted as community service and the whole matter put into the past.

The only thing current and future officeholders will learn from this is how important bipartisanship in your criminality is if you expect a cover-up to protect you afterward.

ThatGirl2 4 years, 1 month ago

I love it when the crazies come out to play! Helps my boring day at work stay entertaining.

Kathy Getto 4 years, 1 month ago

Wait - which God are you talking about?

Ceallach 4 years, 1 month ago

BB, remember, the same culture that brings us Build A Bear workshops for little boys and girls also offers Build A God workshops for grown-up boys and girls. Problem is the gods are so often just mirror images of their creators.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 1 month ago

Deep down, in their own subconscious, people like Bot and Tom think they ARE god.

JayhawksandHerd 4 years, 1 month ago

Do you support access to health care for all and oppose the death penalty as well as war for any reason?

Kirk Larson 4 years, 1 month ago

You, being the arbiter of god's will and all. Like I said, at some level you think you ARE god.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, but if there is a god, I doubt s/he is anywhere near as judgmental as you. Keep flingin' those stones.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

"Hitler" and now "Commies". You're on a roll BB! Keep them coming!

deec 4 years, 1 month ago

Of course, if the boys would keep their guns holstered, there wouldn't be an abortion issue.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

I realize you disagree, however, abortion is legal, in fact the right of a woman´s privacy is guarenteed by the Supreme court.

You would be a total fool to think that the person in charge of enforcing the law has the right to break it because he disagrees with it.

Ahh, I answered my own question about you.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 1 month ago

well, God said..hail unto Cesar that which is Cesars´s..but further..

Kline continued to accept money from the state of Kansas, from our tax dollars to follow the laws of the state.

If he chose not to do his job, he should have resigned.

And your God is NOT my God. My God is not full of hate and judgement and quite honestly, you will burn in hell for your false witness, misusing his words and his name..read the commandments and you will see, you most likely speak for the anti Christ.

deec 4 years, 1 month ago

Actually I was referring to their "guns" as in "This is my rifle..."

Ceallach 4 years, 1 month ago

So, your god only hates and judges false witnesses? Does he understand the idea of "in for a penny . . . in for a pound?" To me it seems pretty judgmental for your god to make someone burn in hell, but maybe that's just me.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Sing that hymn! Never mind that Christianity has single handedly been responsible for killing more people than any other cultural cause, including wars, plagues and famine..

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I was educated somewhere other than a church school :P

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Or if the girls didn't sleep with them.

Or if they used protection.

hedshrinker 4 years, 1 month ago

No government is currently FORCING its citizens to have abortions (kill innocent lives and disobey God in yr words), but if you have yr way, the government WOULD be forcing women to incubate babies conceived even by rape (see new proposed definitions) and incest and medical threat to mother. So much for free will. If you choose to follow yr religious beliefs to make decisions, good for you, just please stop trying to impose yr belief system on me.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I support the (born) woman's right to not die at the hands of others' morals in the back alleys or with coat hangers. But then I'm absolutely sure you would consider their deaths "justified".

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Because we all know, the lives of unborn females are far more important than the lives of born females. Misogynist.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 1 month ago

But you won't grant the born woman the freedom to make that decision for herself? How little you value her when she does not hold to your narrow dogma.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 1 month ago

Did Shewmon really call the "pro-abortion" crowd militant?

Must be all the murders and bombings committed by the "pro-abortion" crowd. Compounded with the personal threats, the name calling, the frivolous lawsuits, the unconstitutional legislation, etc.

Huh? What? Quick, somebody talk about Margaret Sanger again! Hurry! Make a joke comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan!

MyName 4 years, 1 month ago

And I'm sure the only thing Planned Parenthood does is abortions. They don't provide birth control or neo-natal care to millions of women who couldn't get it otherwise.

ThatGirl2 4 years, 1 month ago

Actually, less than 3% of PP's services are related to abortion. The remaining 97% is about family planning, pregnancy prevention, OBGYN and well woman services.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Oh god! I'm wiping the coffee off of my monitor! My tummy hurts I laughed so hard.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow. You're sky person is a real piece of work. Glad I don't believe in it. (Pets her wild, untamed spaghetti god.)

4 years, 1 month ago

Oh, Phill... Oh, Phill. How can we miss you when Kobach is filling your Klown spot so effectively?

auddyup 4 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Phil Cline for having the balls to do your JOB!

MyName 4 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, thanks for making sure Big Business corps. got a free pass in Kansas while we wasted good taxpayer money policing library donations for the evil rap music and going on unfounded witch hunts against people the Religious Right don't like. All while you promote yourself in your pursuit of higher office. Too bad we couldn't have four more years of you ignoring the actual duties of the Attorney General.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Do you think that includes lying and misleading other state agencies, and failing to turn over information to judges in a timely fashion?

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Yep.

One has to wonder if he forgot about "Thou shalt not lie".

Kirk Larson 4 years, 1 month ago

It's called Dominionism, The belief that whatever sins you commit are OK so long as you are doing god's work. Conveniently, one can be one's own arbiter of what god wills. It was real big in the Bush White House. It let them justify torture and killing Iraqi civilians to serve god's plan.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

All that may be true but they result can't suspend a license that isn't active. Phil did his bestso now tiller is gone and with any luck so will planned parenthood.

pace 4 years, 1 month ago

Did he lie? Yes. Is he lying? Yes. Will he lie? Yes.. But he needed to, needs to, will do. Will his supporters continue to support him? Yes. Should the law bow to his needs? No. When law is lost. When it comes to accountable law, we have not been earning it anew.

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