The Kansas Attorney General’s Office on Friday said that while it doesn’t dispute a motion filed by lawyers for a Wichita abortion provider about records being mailed out of the state, it shouldn’t affect the prosecution of George Tiller.
Prosecutor Barry Disney said in a pleading filed in Sedgwick County District Court that he agreed that a package containing abortion records was mailed to Virginia, where former Attorney General Phill Kline works at the Liberty University Law School.
But Disney said it caused no harm to his case — in which Tiller is charged with 19 misdemeanors — because Kline is no longer a Kansas prosecutor.
“The mailing of this package is at its best an innocent act that means nothing,” Disney wrote to the court Friday. “At its worst it is the act of a private citizen whose conduct is not binding upon the office of the attorney general.”
Kline’s personal lawyer said the mailing “was a mistake.”
“Until 24 hours ago, no one associated with Phill Kline even knew what was in that package,” said Caleb Stegall, who represents Kline.
Dan Monnat, who represents Tiller, said in court papers filed late Thursday that the package was mailed on Kline’s last day as Johnson County district attorney and contained sensitive information about women who had received abortions at Tiller’s Wichita clinic.
Monnat argued that it is further evidence that Kline had no regard for patients’ privacy and is further proof of alleged misconduct in his investigation of Tiller.
Contacted Friday at the Liberty Law School, Kline declined to comment.
Kline has said that Monnat is trying to deflect attention from the criminal charges against his client.
Stegall said Kline took a collection of documents to Sedgwick County for a January hearing, under subpoena by Tiller’s lawyers. Among them were Kline’s personal diaries, which Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens ordered would not be turned over to Tiller’s attorneys.
But the stack also included abortion records and summaries of Tiller’s records.
“Those records were supposed to remain in Sedgwick County,” Stegall said.
Stegall said that when the box was sent to Johnson County from Sedgwick County, Kline’s administrative staff forwarded it to Virginia unopened — not inspecting the box to see whether it contained records that should remain with the district attorney.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-0514 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All content © 2009 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.
By RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle