‘Devastating’: Kansas Supreme Court suspends law license of pro-life former attorney general
Topeka, KS, October 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, a pro-life Republican who used his post to prosecute the abortion industry, will appeal a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court today indefinitely suspending his law license, his attorney said today.
In a lengthy 154-page decision, the Court upheld six of 11 ethics violations brought against Kline, the only prosecutor in U.S. history to successfully file charges against the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. Kline was Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and Johnson County district attorney in 2007 and 2008.
“The violations we have found are significant and numerous, and Kline’s inability or refusal to acknowledge or address their significance is particularly troubling in light of his service as the chief prosecuting attorney for this State and its most populous county,” the Court stated.
The ethics investigation stemmed from Kline’s investigations of abortion clinics operated by George Tiller in Wichita and Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, for allegedly failing to report child rape, falsifying records, failing to maintain proper records, and illegal late-term abortions.
Kline ultimately filed 30 criminal charges against Tiller and 107 criminal charges against Planned Parenthood. However, those cases languished until they were finally dropped by Kline’s political successors. But while Planned Parenthood breathed a sigh of relief, Kline’s saga was just beginning.
The pro-life attorney was subsequently charged and found guilty by an ethics panel of mishandling evidence, and misleading a grand jury during his investigation.
Kline and his supporters have dismissed the ethics investigation as a transparent case of a politically motivated witch-hunt by Kansas politicians with close ties to the abortion industry, including former Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a personal friend of George Tiller.
“The issue has always been that Planned Parenthood wanted to hold up the scalp of the only prosecutor that ever prosecuted them,” Kline’s former campaign manager, Jenn Giroux, told LifeSiteNews.com today. Giroux described the ruling as “devastating” for Kline.
“There is no evidence against Phill that warrants this,” she said. “None. I sat in those hearings. What they basically did was try to piece together things and call it evidence, even though he was vindicated of ethical violations several times over a 10-year period.”
Kline’s attorney, Tom Condit, agreed, arguing that the prosecutors put five years’ worth of Kline’s work and correspondence under a “microscope,” and then interpreted any ambiguities as evidence of guilt.
“The abortion industry has such power out there that they were not going to let a prosecutor who went after them survive,” he told LifeSiteNews today. “I’ve said before, the abortion industry can tolerate the picketing; they can tolerate the sidewalk counseling; they can tolerate the legislative acts; they can tolerate a lot of things. It’s the cost of doing business. What they couldn’t tolerate was a prosecutor threatening to put them in jail.”
“They are sending a message to all of us: You don’t prosecute abortionists. That’s the message,” Condit said.
Condit said that Kline is considering his next step, and will take advantage of "every possible avenue of redress," including possibly filing a motion for reconsideration by the court.
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Planned Parenthood celebrated today's ruling.
“We are gratified Phill Kline is being held to account for his egregious misconduct after a full hearing of the facts of the case by an independent judiciary,” said Peter Brownlie, the president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas. “The time and taxpayer money Kline spent on a misguided crusade against Planned Parenthood can never be recovered, nor can the time and resources we had to divert from preventive services for Kansas families. But we are satisfied that Kansans are protected from Kline’s continued unethical practice of law.”
Kline has strongly denied the ethics charges, and expressed frustration that while significant resources have been poured into prosecuting him on the highly technical ethics charges, the abortionists themselves, against whom he compiled reams of evidence, never took the stand to face the serious felony charges.
The case was marked by anomalies from the beginning. Kline’s investigation was repeatedly hampered by abortionists’ extraordinary legal motions: in one example, the court handed over the task of redacting medical records to the target of the investigation itself, Planned Parenthood - a move Kline called “unprecedented,” and which he said resulted in over-redaction. The most serious charges against Planned Parenthood were later dropped after investigators learned that key evidence had been shredded during the Sebelius administration.
When the ethics charges went to the Supreme Court, the Court saw the unprecedented recusal of five of the seven justices due to conflicts of interest. Those justices were replaced with justices from lower courts. Then, during hearings at the Supreme Court, law clerk Sarah Peterson Herr attacked Kline on Twitter from the courtroom, predicting that he would be disbarred, and called him a “douchebag.” Herr was subsequently fired and faces further disciplinary action.
“It’s Alice through the looking glass,” Kline said last year about the fallout from his investigation of Planned Parenthood. “It only gets curiouser and curiouser, where up is down and down is up, and then law becomes about brute power.”
“And that’s why those who can’t be seen because they’re in the womb, those who don’t count in electoral votes, those who can’t write checks, are forgotten in our society and neglected - just as the raped woman or the exploited woman who feels she has no choice but to have an abortion,” he added.
Troy Newman, president of the Kansas-based Operation Rescue, slammed the Court's ruling today. “The Sebelius-Era vendetta against Kline for daring to uphold Kansas abortion and child sex abuse laws has finally extracted its pound of flesh,” he said.
Newman said he believes the case was designed to send a message with a “chilling effect” to law enforcement officials who might be considering investigating abortion clinics. “Now we can expect that women will be further endangered by criminal abortionists while intimidated prosecutors look the other way in order to protect their own political careers.”
Dana Cody, the president and executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which offered legal support to Kline, said today that an ethics case that “began as a political lynching has ended with a further travesty of justice.”
“This case had nothing to do with the fair application of the Rules of Professional Conduct and everything to do with being politically correct on the issue of abortion,” she said.
Kline will have to wait three years before reapplying for his law license. However, he currently teaches at Liberty University and has said he has no immediate plans to practice law in Kansas.