Peter J. Smith

DA’s diary snatching brings new twist to Phill Kline ethics trial, potential crime

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

TOPEKA, February 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - It was revealed during Tuesday’s proceedings in the ethics trial against pro-life former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, that the man who replaced Kline as District Attorney of Johnson County, Steven Howe, had intercepted and opened mail that contained personal effects belonging to Kline – an act that may have put the DA in violation of federal law.

Kline is being tried in Topeka over alleged ethics violations in his criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller.

The revelation came at the end of Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett’s interrogation of Kline, when Hazlett raised questions about Kline’s diary, which had been obtained by Hazlett’s office.

According to Kline’s attorneys, they were given to understand that the matter of Kline’s diary would not be used in the disciplinary hearing.

Just before the diary was brought up, Kline quoted Judge Richard Anderson’s incredulity that AG Paul Morrison had joined with Planned Parenthood (in August 2007 Writ of Mandamus) to demand they both hand over the abortion records essential to Kline’s prosecution of Planned Parenthood on charges of conspiracy to commit illegal abortions.

“Have you ever heard of a prosecutor and judge giving back evidence to the targets of criminal activity?” Kline quoted Anderson as telling him.

The Planned Parenthood in Johnson county still faces 107 criminal counts, including 23 felony charges, filed by Kline.

Several minutes later, the fact of Kline’s personal diary was subpoenaed by Tiller’s legal counsel was raised, and that it remains currently in the hands of the Disciplinary Administrator’s Office, despite repeated requests from Kline to have it returned to him.

“We have your diary,” Hazlett confirmed in the trial, shortly before wrapping up his questioning of Kline.

“I’d like it back,” rejoined Kline.

The fact of the Disciplinary Administrator’s refusing to return the personal diary to Kline elicited laughs from the courtroom.

But soon thereafter the testimony showed that the manner in which Kline’s diary was obtained by Hazlett was no laughing matter - and may even have been illegal under federal postal laws.

Kline said he had forgotten his personal diary and other items at the Johnson County DA’s office in January 2009 when he was driving on the road, moving across the country to take up a position as a visiting professor at Liberty University. He said he asked his administrative assistant, Megan Harmon, who was still at the office, to mail the diary to him at his new Virginia address.

According to his testimony, Harmon sent a package, containing the diary, to the wrong address. The mail package meant for Kline was instead returned to the sender at the DA’s office..

But by the time the package was returned, Kline’s successor Steve Howe was the new DA in Johnson County, and Harmon no longer was working in the DA’s office.

When the package was returned to the DA’s office, it was stated in the course of the trial proceedings that Kline’s mail was then opened, apparently by Howe. Kline’s attorneys later confirmed to LSN that Howe had opened Kline’s mail, and sent the diary along with other contents in the package to Hazlett’s office.

Holbrook did not say to LSN that Howe broke any laws by opening a package addressed to Kline before forwarding it to Hazlett. He also said he was not aware if that action would have violated federal laws regulating the protection of US mail.

But if the package was addressed specifically to Kline, it raises questions as to whether federal laws against mail tampering may have been broken - a potential federal crime that carries jail time.

Under Title 18 of the US Code, deliberately tampering with mail intended for another person is a felony offense. In Part I, Chapter 83, § 1702, “Obstruction of correspondence” it states: “Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

The following section of that chapter, § 1703 (b) “Delay or destruction of mail or newspapers” also may apply to Howe. It states: “Whoever, without authority, opens, or destroys any mail or package of newspapers not directed to him, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

The package alleged to have contained the diary was produced in the courtroom, but inside the box was a large black three-ring binder with sheets of paper. It was unclear what exactly the nature of the binder was or how it was related to the diary. It appeared that it was an item contained in the box Harmon intended for Kline at his new home in Virginia.

There was some amusing speculation by a couple of the 16 members of the audience that Hazlett might give back the diary right there and then. However, that did not happen.

LSN was not able to independently verify the name and address of Kline on the box, although it was agreed that was the box Harmon used to send Kline his diary.

Hazlett declined to shed any light on the way Kline’s diary was obtained, when approached by LSN when today’s proceedings concluded shortly after 5:15 p.m.

“I got a moment and I don’t want to talk about this case,” he stated politely.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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