With time running out, the grand jury investigating abortion provider George Tiller has yet to see any medical records subpoenaed directly from the doctor, the judge overseeing the panel said.
District Judge Paul Buchanan told the Associated Press that independent experts reviewing the records have gotten fewer than 20 redacted medical files so far in the first installment from Tiller. Jurors have not yet received them.
The two experts, a doctor and a lawyer, will review the material before it goes the grand jury. Buchanan said he expects to eventually receive a sampling of between 160 and 170 redacted files dating from Jan. 1, 2004 to the present.
The grand jury’s term expires July 8, and under Kansas law cannot be extended again, said Judge Michael Corrigan, the county’s chief judge.
“They have a lot to do by July 8 and it is questionable how quick it will take to get something done,” Corrigan said.
Buchanan, who is overseeing the grand jury, said Tuesday that he anticipates jurors will have some medical files before their term runs out. But when pressed about whether they will have enough time to make a decision before the clock runs out, he replied: “I have no idea what is in these records or what evidence they have received otherwise.”
In Kansas, judges do not supervise the day-to-day investigation of a grand jury.
Dan Monnat, one of the attorneys representing Tiller, said redacting the medical records is a “time-consuming process” for the law offices and the clinic.
“We are not trying to run out the clock,” Monnat said. “We are trying to timely comply with the court’s order while at the same time guaranteeing the privacy of the patients to the degree permitted by the court’s orders.”
Meanwhile, a separate criminal case against Tiller also appears stalled one year after then-Attorney General Paul Morrison filed 19 criminal charges against him.
His predecessor, former Attorney General Phill Kline, had filed 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller in Sedgwick County in December 2006, only to see a judge dismiss them the next day for jurisdictional reasons.
Morrison, who defeated Kline in the 2006 election, charged Tiller in June 2007 on allegations of failing to get an independent second opinion on some late-term abortions in 2003.
Prosecutors do not anticipate the trial on that case to go forward on June 16 as scheduled, said Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for Attorney General Stephen Six.
Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens has yet to rule on defense motions asking him to dismiss the case and to expand the number of jurors, she said.
In addition, prosecutors are still waiting for copies of transcripts and other documents so they can provide them to the defense, Anstaett said.
Reach Roxana Hegeman at 316-268-6514 or [email protected]. All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.
By ROXANA HEGEMAN