Phill Kline will face questioning next week by lawyers representing the Wichita abortion doctor he pursued for years as the state’s top prosecutor.
Kline, the former Kansas attorney general and current Johnson County district attorney, is on the witness list to be called by lawyers for George Tiller in a motion to dismiss misdemeanor charges related to how Tiller performed late-term abortions.
Both Kline and his successor, Paul Morrison, are scheduled to be called in a hearing expected to last most of next week before Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens.
Tiller is one of the few doctors in the nation who perform late-term abortions. His lawyers say Kline abused his power while investigating Tiller’s Wichita Women’s Health Care Services clinic.
Kline began investigating Tiller’s clinic and a Planned Parenthood facility in Johnson County in 2003, launching a legal battle over the privacy of medical records and abortion rights before the Kansas Supreme Court and in district courtrooms in Topeka and Wichita.
“They’re going to subpoena me to try and make this about me,” Kline said in an interview with The Eagle in September, after Tiller’s lawyers filed their motion to dismiss the case.
Tiller’s lawyers said that Kline continued to wield his influence over the case, even after leaving office, by pressuring his successor, Morrison.
Lawyer Dan Monnat has said in a pleading that Kline pressured Morrison through knowledge of an extramarital affair that later led to Morrison’s resignation.
Morrison filed 19 misdemeanor charges related to Tiller’s business relationship with a doctor who provided second opinions on whether the health of the mother was a reason to give them late-term abortions.
State law requires independent medical assessments for abortions where a fetus may be able to survive outside the womb.
Stephen Six, the current attorney general, is arguing that while he doesn’t endorse Kline’s tactics, that shouldn’t negate the current charges against Tiller.
Kline said Six’s willingness to pursue the case confirms he was right.
“Every single record shows criminal conduct,” Kline said in the September interview. “Every one. We were right.”
Also on the witness list next week:
• Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who presided over secret hearings by Kline, which led to the subpoena of abortion records from the Wichita and Johnson County clinics. Anderson is attempting to quash the subpoena and has requested a protective order to limit his public testimony.
• Special investigator Thomas Williams, who worked for Kline when he served as attorney general.
• Assistant attorneys general Eric Rucker and Steve Maxwell, who led Kline’s investigation of the abortion clinics.
• Assistant Attorney General Jared Reed, who had been assigned by Six to pursue the charges against Tiller.
Six has now assigned Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney, a former Sedgwick County assistant district attorney, to assume responsibilities as lead prosecutor on the case.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or email@example.com. All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.
By RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle