Peter J. Smith

Phill Kline attorney makes witness sweat in Planned Parenthood ethics complaint case

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

TOPEKA, Kansas, February 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Monday’s ethics trial of Phill Kline over his criminal investigation of abortion provider Planned Parenthood kicked into high gear when the former attorney general’s (AG) defense counsel brought a vigorous cross-examination of the prosecution’s first witness.

As soon as the court resumed after lunch at 1:40 p.m., Kline’s chief counsel, Mr. Reid Holbrook, dissected the testimony of Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett’s first witness against Kline, Veronica Derscher, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division.

Derscher first admitted under Holbrook’s questioning that the two times she and an associate met with Judge Anderson their remarks were not transcribed. While she disputed that her comments in January 2007 about Phill Kline before Judge Richard Anderson were “disparaging,” she seemed to concede that they were not favorable toward Kline, the former AG, who was by then District Attorney of Johnson County.

She said Anderson instead “wanted to talk about the merits of the case, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Holbrook also pointed out that Derscher said in a letter she did not want to “pander to [Judge Richard] Anderson” - a statement that she said was more illustrative of her frustration dealing with Kline having the abortion records.

Derscher backed off that morning’s statement to Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett that Anderson told her, “I don’t believe you,” when she told him that Kline had taken the Tiller investigation file and medical records with him to Johnson County.

Holbrook pointed out that Anderson in sworn testimony stated that he told Derscher that he did not want to involve himself at the time in what looked to him like a political dispute.

“That is not what you told us this morning,” said Holbrook.

Derscher then said that Anderson actually just said “I acted skeptical, whatever, whatever” about Kline having the Tiller medical records.

Anderson found out April 9, 2007 about the transfer of the Tiller file to Kline’s DA office, and requested the file returned to the AG within a week by 5 p.m. Derscher admitted that this was done, although she was irritated that Kline held on to the records for those few months.

She also stated that she was frustrated Anderson would give them the Tiller file, while Kline was allowed to make summaries of those files on the day of Morrison’s swearing in as AG (January 8, 2007). But Derscher then admitted Holbrook’s point that there was no way to determine when Kline had made those summaries.

She also revealed that she decided to file an ethics complaint against Kline after the new Attorney General Paul Morrison said in response to a reporter’s question that he thought Kline was unethical in his investigation of Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Derscher also had to explain that she had not performed an immediate inventory of files she received from Kline in January 2007 at the time she filed the ethics complaint against him. Instead the inventory process commenced six months later. Also, the cover of the 60 page spreadsheet inventorying the documents with the abortion medical records was also dated at least a year after she filed the ethics complaint against Kline, according to testimony given on the cross-examination.

In Holbrook’s questioning, she also admitted that no criminal case had been worked up against anybody over the handling of the abortion records - including Jared Reed, the investigator who sought and obtained immunity on advice of his lawyer because he was “nervous” over having kept a box containing redacted abortion records of Tiller’s patients at his apartment/house.

Testimony in the trial revealed the files had been kept at Reed’s domicile for a month (January to February 2007) while Kline transitioned into the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, apparently at the recommendation of investigator Tom Williams who did not believe the DA office was secure during the transition phase.

Kline’s attorney also attacked Derscher’s insistence that the abortion records obtained by Kline were not redacted enough, and the identities of Tiller’s patients could have been known from the redacted records. He quoted Judge David King’s report that Kline did a sufficient redaction to be in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

“Did medical records ever get out in the public domain?” queried Holbrook.

“No,” responded Derscher.

On the security issue, Holbrook pointed out that there had been thefts at the office, and former DA Paul Morrison (the incoming AG) had even installed a pinhole camera in the wall to catch employees stealing from the break room. There was no mention that any evidence or tampering had ever occurred in the evidence locker room.

He also added that Morrison had forbidden the Kline transition team from entering the Johnson county DA’s office until he became AG in January 2007. Derscher said she was “not in the vicinity” when Morrison threw Steve Maxwell, Kline’s lead prosecutor, out of the DA’s office.

Judge King’s findings also showed that Anderson said Kline could share the records with law enforcement, and that his Dec. 21, 2006 order to transfer the files from the AG office to the DA office in Johnson County was a legitimate move.

Holbrook’s cross-examination brought up that Kline’s charges against Tiller were deep-sixed by AG Morrison in favor of other criminal charges prepared by Derscher: the highly technical charges on which Tiller was eventually acquitted. Derscher admitted that the AG’s office conceded “yes” to Tiller’s defense attorneys’ stipulation that the abortion forms filed were correct - a fact Holbrook said lost the AG the case on the illegal late-term abortions.

Kline had pursued Tiller over failing to cite a specific medical reason for performing abortions on post-viable unborn infants past 22 weeks, and his charges stated that Tiller had not followed the law by simply parroting the law’s statutory requirements on the exception form.

Holbrook then asked why Kline was prevented from filing charges against George Tiller. Derscher said that Sedwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston had them dismissed by a judge because Kline lacked jurisdiction. Holbrook then immediately followed up asking how was it then that Morrison had jurisdiction to file his own criminal charges against the abortionist.

“Well, he asked Nola,” Derscher admitted.

“Nothing further,” said Holbrook, wrapping up Derscher’s time on the stand by 3 p.m.

The next witness called to the stand by Hazlett was Phill Kline.

Support hard-hitting pro-life and pro-family journalism.

Donate to LifeSite's fall campaign today


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Lisa Bourne

, ,

Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

Click "like" to support Catholics Restoring the Culture!

However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Diven Family / GoFundMe.com
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

Click "like" to support Catholics Restoring the Culture!

Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook