Archive for Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Johnson County DA faces ethics complaint over abortion case

September 4, 2012


— An anti-abortion group filed an ethics complaint Tuesday accusing Johnson County's district attorney of lying to a judge about the fate of records from an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

Operation Rescue filed the complaint with the Office the Disciplinary Administrator, the board responsible investigating cases of attorney misconduct. It alleges District Attorney Steve Howe lied in court about the destruction of the records obtained in the investigation.

The clinic was charged with falsifying documents and performing illegal late-term abortions. Howe asked a judge in November 2011 to drop 49 of the original 107 charges, including the felonies, filed against Planned Parenthood in 2007. The last of the charges were dropped in August.

Cheryl Sullenger, policy adviser for Operation Rescue, said Howe lied when he told a district court judge that the "last complete copies" of the abortion records were destroyed by the attorney general's office.

Sullenger said that was false and that Operation Rescue had proof from a Shawnee County judge that copies still existed.

"This is not just abortion. It's about whether you can expect justice in Johnson County when the district attorney is willing to lie to judges," she said. "We did our homework more than Steve Howe did on this case."

Howe declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had not yet reviewed the ethics complaint.

Operation Rescue has called for Howe and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to resign for the handling of the Planned Parenthood case. Sullenger said the group planned to file an ethics complaint against Schmidt in the coming days.

"This is just the first round," she said.

Planned Parenthood strongly disputed the 107 charges, including 23 felonies. The charges were filed in October 2007 by then-District Attorney Phill Kline, who also faces ethics charges related to the investigation and handling of records.

Ron Keefover, spokesman for the Kansas judicial branch, said all matters filed with Office of Disciplinary Administrator remain confidential unless a probable cause finding is made by a review committee.

The Johnson County abortion investigation began when Kline served as attorney general in 2003. He lost his re-election in 2006 but served as Johnson county district attorney from 2007 through 2008, allowing him to file charges against Planned Parenthood. The case never made it to trial, though there were multiple legal disputes and Kansas Supreme Court rulings.

The most serious charges alleged that the clinic failed to maintain records on individual abortions performed in 2003, as required by law, then fabricated a set when ordered to produce them in 2006 for Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson. He was supervising the investigation of abortion providers by Kline.

The clinic said no wrongdoing occurred, but a trial likely would have included a comparison of what the clinic produced for Anderson with copies of the reports submitted to the state in 2003.

Various copies of the reports existed, but Howe contends he didn't have clean, complete copies of what the clinic submitted to the state in 2003. He largely escaped criticism from abortion opponents in November after he said in court that the set of copies he could have used was "destroyed" by the attorney general's office in April 2009, under Steve Six, an abortion-rights Democrat.

An external investigation later concluded that the attorney general's office didn't destroy any documents involving the Planned Parenthood case.


somebodynew 5 years, 8 months ago

And the bad part is: If Philllll had done the basic job of a prosecutor and HAD the evidence BEFORE he filed a bunch of charges, it would have still been there and no one would have had to try to 'find' it later. But you take notice they never bring that out...

voevoda 5 years, 8 months ago

Many people don't agree that a fertilied egg is a "kid" and that abortion is a "hideous form of murder." When the well-being of adult women is at stake and the fetus is not viable outside of the woman's body, there is plenty of room for moral ambiguity. Many highly ethical and thoughtful people (both Republicans and Democrats, incidentally) have arrived at very different conclusions from yours, rvjayhawk. So have myriads of women for whom the question was concrete and deeply personal, not abstract (as it apparently must always have been for you). On what basis can you assert that your position is the only moral one, and everyone who thinks differently must lack a conscience?

Cai 5 years, 8 months ago

even under all the pro choice laws - if you choose to abort "a few days from being born" you do get charged with some form of murder.

often (particularly in cases of rape which has been hotly debated recently), abortions occur before the embryo has a heart, brain, or closed spinal cord. It looks like this:

You want to call it a child, fine. but it's NOT capable of independently living, and without the mother it would die anyway. Thus, it's NOT okay to demand the mother risk her wellbeing for it.

How can we claim to be a nation that supports equal rights for everyone if we demand that women must be slaves for 9 months and risk their health (mental and physical) for an organism that MIGHT (even probably, but never definitely) will be human one day?

Glenn Reed 5 years, 8 months ago


These fetuses should have every opportunity to be born as babies and THEN starve to death!

... joking aside...

You state that this is not a religious thing for you. That's really odd. Most people who think beyond what their god might want aren't pro-life.

Are you in favor of comprehensive sexual education? Are you in favor of the use of birth control? Are you in favor of of the state picking up the tab for prenatal care? Postnatal care? Public education? Food stamps? Children's health care?

If you said no to any of those, I'd really recommend signing up for one congregation or another. Otherwise, the only reason you'd have to taking complete control over someone else's body is, well... being a jerk.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 8 months ago

Operation Rescue successfully got Kristin Neuhaus license' jerked. Now their knickers are in a twist because Schmidt and Howe "bungled" the Planned Parenthood case.
Operation Rescue; as big of an embarrassment to Kansas as Fred Phelps.

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