Topeka An attorney representing Phill Kline against ethics charges is alleging that the court record may have been tainted by a research attorney who was later fired for posting disparaging Twitter comments about the former Kansas attorney general.
In a letter to Stan Hazlett, disciplinary administrator for the state’s judicial branch, Kline’s attorney Tom Condit asks for a review of all research attorneys working for judges and justices to determine whether there was bias.
“It’s the only way to resolve these concerns, when there is so much at stake for Mr. Kline, is to conduct a thorough vetting of the process,” Condit wrote in the letter sent Tuesday.
Sarah Peterson-Herr was fired Nov. 19, four days after she posted comments about Kline as he appeared before the Kansas Supreme Court over alleged misconduct during his investigation of abortion providers.
One tweet commented on Kline’s facial expression. Another predicted that Kline would be disbarred by the court for seven years for his conduct.
Condit asked Hazlett to provide him with all communications between his office and any judicial branch research attorney. He also wants copies of communications between attorneys or staff in his office and those on the hearing panel that ultimately recommended Kline be sanctioned for his conduct.
Condit maintains that because the role of research attorneys is to draft legal memoranda after reading the court record for cases, they hold “the unique position to provide judges and justices with their first impression, if not their lasting impressions of a case.”
Condit cited several instances where he said the court record in the Kline case had been misrepresented, including by Hazlett during the latest hearing on Nov. 15.
“There are seemingly infinite ironies between the many failings and omissions of your office and the (disciplinary) panel report on the one hand, and the standard of absolute perfection required of all of Mr. Kline’s acts and communications on the other hand,” Condit wrote.
A court spokesman declined to comment about Condit’s letter or what action, if any, the disciplinary administrator would take to address the concerns.