Topeka A Kansas Supreme Court with five different justices sitting in will hear arguments Thursday over whether former Attorney General Phill Kline should be punished for his handling of investigations into abortion providers in Kansas.
Kline is accused of misleading other officials during investigations of abortion clinics in Overland Park and Wichita while he was attorney general and later the Johnson County district attorney. Kline strongly disputes the allegations.
Arguments will be heard Thursday by two Kansas Court of Appeals judges and three district court judges and two state Supreme Court justices. The high court's five other justices removed themselves, citing their previous knowledge of the allegations. It's not clear when the court would rule, Supreme Court spokesman Ron Keefover said.
The attorneys for both sides will get 30 minutes each for arguments — twice the time normally given in high court hearings. The hearing is not included on the court's regular docket, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Monday.
The Disciplinary Administrator, a state agency that oversees the conduct of Kansas lawyers, wants the Supreme Court to disbar Kline. In October 2011, the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys recommended that Kline's law license be suspended indefinitely, a step below disbarment. An indefinite suspension allows an attorney to get a law license back after three years.
The state board said Kline repeatedly misled other officials or allowed subordinates to mislead others during the investigation of abortion clinics.
Kline, who is now a visiting professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., has called the complaint politically motivated.
"I upheld my duty, upheld my oath of office and the integrity of my profession," Kline said. "I will continue to speak and stand for the truth and for those who cannot speak for themselves. My 'mistake' was my willingness to investigate politically powerful people and to let that investigation go where the evidence led."