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.

All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

Associated Press

A judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors for Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six should answer nearly 500 allegations of misconduct by his predecessors.

The allegations were leveled by lawyers for Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens denied a request by Six’s office to wait until after a November hearing to respond to a motion to dismiss 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller.

Tiller faces charges stemming from the way he sought second medical opinions on fetus viability before performing late-term abortions. Tiller is one of the few doctors in the nation who perform such procedures.

Lawyers for Tiller say the charges should be dismissed because they resulted from an illegal investigation and improper conduct involving former attorneys general Phill Kline and Paul Morrison.

Owens added that he’d allow both sides to file further arguments following testimony at a weeklong hearing set for Nov. 17.

Dan Monnat, who represents Tiller, called the request to leave the allegations unanswered “zany” during Thursday’s hearing, drawing an objection from assistant attorney general Barry Disney.

“After the defense has shown its hand, the state wants to renege on its agreement, play by a different set of rules and hide its hand,” Monnat said.

“We are not playing a game,” Disney responded.

Last month, Monnat and colleague Lee Thompson filed a 156-page brief outlining 496 allegations of perceived prosecutorial misconduct, mostly by Kline, when, as attorney general, he investigated Tiller and an abortion clinic in Overland Park.

Monnat further has claimed that after leaving the attorney general’s office and taking over as Johnson County district attorney, Kline continued to exert pressure on his successor, Paul Morrison.

Morrison resigned after reportedly having an affair with an employee of the Johnson County office. Monnat has said Kline used those allegations to push Morrison into filing charges.

In an interview with The Eagle, Kline repeatedly denied he did anything wrong.

Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or [email protected]. All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

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