Phill Kline was so obsessed with fighting abortion that he lied to judges and overstepped his authority while serving as Kansas attorney general, lawyers for George Tiller claimed in court papers filed Monday.
Kline also tried to orchestrate a raid by law enforcement on Tiller’s Wichita clinic to seize the medical records of women who sought abortions there, attorneys Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson said in their pleadings.
Now the Johnson County District Attorney, Kline said he didn’t put patient privacy at risk, and he said the allegations are further proof that Tiller thinks he’s above the law.
The lawyers are asking a Sedgwick County district judge to dismiss a misdemeanor case against Tiller because of what they call Kline’s “outrageous misconduct” as the state’s highest ranking law enforcement officer.
A hearing is set for November before Judge Clark Owens.
Kline declined a request for an interview but issued this statement Monday through his office: “Every judge who has viewed the evidence has found probable cause to believe that Mr. Tiller has committed crimes and all this demonstrates is that Mr. Tiller and his attorneys continue to believe that he is above the law.”
Those judges found probable cause, Tiller’s lawyers said, because Kline lied to them and his agents gave false information in affidavits.
Quoting internal memos from Kline’s office when he served as attorney general and sworn statements from associates, the 154-page motion filed Monday claimed:
• Kline and his prosecutors illegally initiated a secret criminal investigation into Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services clinic and another abortion provider run by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park. They passed memos talking about a “legal obstacle… due to the absence of a definitive complainant or allegation.”
• Kline’s office staff continued the investigation by lying to a Shawnee County judge and including false information in sworn affidavits, claiming to have evidence to suspect crimes when they didn’t. “The prosecution is the product of an obsessed former-AG’s lies, half-truths and material omissions,” Tiller’s lawyers wrote.
• Kline’s office planned to send armed police into the abortion clinics to seize women’s medical records. But Shawnee County Chief District Judge Richard Anderson told Kline’s agents that if they expected resistance to the search warrants, they should try to get the records by a court order.
• After receiving abortion records through subpoena, but losing his re-election bid, Kline gave copies to a doctor and mailed files to his new office in Johnson County and to the Shawnee County district attorney. Kline also had his prosecutors store abortion files in a garage and take some of them to be copied at Kinko’s, in apparent defiance of a court order meant to protect the privacy of the medical information.
• Kline claimed to be investigating Tiller and the Planned Parenthood clinic for not reporting abortion given to underage girls as evidence of sexual abuse. But Kline ignored evidence that showed law enforcement and other health care providers around the state were not reporting live births of the same underage girls he had vowed to protect.
“Patient privacy has never been at risk and the women have never been under investigation,” Kline said in his statement.
Tiller’s lawyers say Kline, after being voted out of office, continued to put pressure on his successor, Paul Morrison, through a woman who was having an extramarital affair with Morrison.
That woman, Linda Carter, worked for Morrison when he was Johnson County district attorney. She remained in the Johnson County office when Kline took office. Morrison charged Tiller in the current case but resigned after the affair became public.
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 such independent medical assessments in cases of abortions where a fetuses may be able to survive outside the womb.
Stephen Six, the current attorney general, said through a spokeswoman that his office “will continue forward with the case.”
Kline’s pursuit of Tiller as attorney general garnered national attention, partly because of the example it provided of the divide over legalized abortion in this country. Kline was profiled in national magazines and appeared on network talk shows as a leader of the anti-abortion movement.
Tiller’s clinic is one of only two in the country that will perform abortions on women after their fetuses have been determined to be viable outside the womb, his lawyers said.
One of Kline’s agents at the Attorney General’s Office, Jared Reed, testified in a case between Planned Parenthood and Kline that the pursuit of Tiller might have gone too far.
“They’re willing to do whatever is necessary to get charges filed or to get abortions stopped,” Reed testified, “whatever is necessary up to and including going above the law.”
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or [email protected]. All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.
By RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle