Kansas Attorney General Steve Six defended the prosecution of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller on Thursday, arguing in court papers that alleged misconduct earlier in the investigation doesn’t merit dismissing the case.
Tiller is charged in state court with 19 misdemeanor counts of breaking a 1998 state law requiring that a second, independent Kansas physician sign off on most late-term abortions. Prosecutors allege there was a financial relationship between Tiller and Ann Kristin Neuhaus, the Nortonville physician on whom he relied for independent opinions.
The prosecution originated with an investigation by then-Attorney General Phill Kline and Eric Rucker, an attorney in Kline’s office, and continued after Democrat Paul Morrison defeated Kline in the 2006 election.
Tiller’s lawyers filed a motion last month asking Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens to either suppress evidence or dismiss the charges, claiming outrageous conduct by the “obsessed” prosecutor who initially conducted the inquisition on which the case is based.
Six and members of his staff responded in documents filed Thursday that the allegation of “outrageous” conduct was based on speculation and misinterpretation.
In a separate statement provided to the Associated Press, Six said, “I certainly don’t approve of Phill Kline and Eric Rucker’s handling of this investigation, however, it should not result in the dismissal of the charges filed by Attorney General Morrison.”
“This is not about the propriety of the Kline administration’s action, it is about whether the whole case should be thrown out,” Six said. “Even assuming there was some sort of misconduct, the defendant cannot meet the burden required to dismiss these charges.”
Defense attorney Dan Monnat said in a statement he was confident Six will eventually see that rather than waste taxpayer money, the only proper disposition of the “political prosecution” is dismissal.
“We await the Attorney General’s recognition that his office cannot prosecute Dr. Tiller without relying on the tainted products of Kline’s illegal investigation,” Monnat said.
Kline, in an interview Thursday, defended his investigation of Tiller, saying every judge who has seen the evidence has found probable cause that a crime was committed. Kline said Six is only pursuing the case because it had already been filed when Six took office.
Owens set aside the week of Nov. 17 to hear evidence before making a decision on the defense’s dismissal request.
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By ROXANA HEGEMAN