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.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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