The Wichita, Kan., district attorney who asked to have charges filed by the state attorney general against late-term abortion specialist George Tiller dismissed has been drawn into the war of words over her actions, just as the “Cry for Justice” pro-life conference was finishing its four-day stay in her city.
Sedgwick County DA Nola Tedesco Foulston, in response to a request from officials with the Christian Defense Coalition, Operation Rescue and the Center for Reclaiming America to meet, released a letter explaining there was “no reason” for her to address “these pending issues” with the groups.
“You have been made aware that any attempt to influence this office and interfere with the administration of justice is criminal conduct,” she told the pro-life leaders who wanted to discuss with her the case that had been assembled against Tiller by former Attorney General Phill Kline.
That case had been approved by the state Supreme Court and two different district judges before Kline filed 30 criminal counts against Tiller just a few days before Christmas. Foulston then made a motion with a third judge to dismiss the counts, alleging the state attorney general had no authority to prosecute a case in her district without her approval.
Kline then appointed a special prosecutor, Don McKinney, to handle the case, but as soon as new Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison took office, he dismissed McKinney. But not before McKinney filed with the state Supreme Court a request for an order to reinstate the case with a ruling that Foulston must allow it to be heard.
That filing, a writ of mandamus, was based on the grounds that Foulston and District Judge Paul Clark, who dismissed the Tiller counts, “unlawfully usurped” the authority of Kline and state legislature by improperly terminating the case, McKinney said.
“The judicial system of this state cannot function properly if loose cannon local prosecutors can hijack a case from the attorney general and then dismiss the charges to protect their friends or political allies,” McKinney told WND at the time. “Such extraordinary conduct destroys equal justice, interferes with the attorney general’s ranking position, and snubs the authority of the legislature to mandate prosecutions by the attorney general.”
He noted the legislature specifically authorized the attorney general to obtain reports from abortion clinics regarding the age of unborn babies at abortion, and “use such documents for the purpose of a … criminal proceeding.”
When he was dismissed, McKinney also accused Morrison of paying political debts.
Foulston took the meeting request from the protesters as an opportunity to argue her position. “The matters and decisions under review by this office will not be compromised by your continued intent to influence or impede my decision. You have been informed that the decision of Phill Kline to attempt to prosecute alleged violations in this jurisdiction were without legal authority. The dismissal of the criminal complaint stands.”
The counts had alleged Tiller did illegal late-term abortions, and failed to have the state-required medical diagnoses for them. Foulston continued with an explanation that she had investigated whether the proper “reporting” had been done by Tiller when he did abortions to minor children, and Foulston said that information was on her website, “along with other legal documents that you are encouraged to review so that you might gain a clearer understanding of the law and its application in this instance.”
She also blamed Kline for not providing “the evidence that would be relevant to our review of the matter,” and noted that Morrison would be reviewing the situation to determine “as to whether there is evidence sufficient to warrant review by this office of the matters at issue.”
“The information that you have placed on your website, and your vituperative comments and continuous picketing will not influence any decision by this office. People should know the facts and the law before espousing viewpoints that are contrary to the laws of the State of Kansas and that are factually and patently inaccurate,” she wrote.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told WND that the next effort by his organization, working in conjunction with the Christian Defense Coalition and the Center for Reclaiming America, will be to seek a federal investigation.
He told WND that the facts of the case – that two separate district judges signed off on allowing the prosecution to move forward and the state Supreme Court approved the case – are significant. “They have far more access to the evidence than we do,” he said.
And he said the “smoking gun” in the situation is that a former Tiller business associate, Ann Kristen Neuhaus, had been listed as a witness for the prosecution. “She was the person signing off on these abortions,” he noted.
So the groups will request federal intervention in order to determine the validity of the claims and what other factors are present in the case.
Pro-life protesters have expressed a lack of faith in the Kansas system, Morrison and Foulston. Operation Rescue has reported Morrison campaigned on a pledge to drop investigations in abortion businesses and benefited from a series of mailings highly critical of Kline. They reported the mailings were traced to a group that shared the mailing address of a group funded by Tiller. They also allege there are connections between Tiller and Foulston.
Morrison, meanwhile, has said he was unsure if he had all the medical records connected to Kline’s investigation of the abortion industry in the state. Fifteen of those records were the basis for the 30 counts against Tiller.
But Kline, who since leaving the state office has moved into the office of the prosecuting attorney in Johnson County, responded that a news release from Foulston’s own office earlier confirmed the documents were filed with the court.
The “Cry for Justice” conference was held over the weekend on the suggestion of Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, and included a number of protest events, some seminars, several worship services, and the attempts to meet with Foulston.
O’Reilly had presented a series of programs about the Tiller clinic, and then concluded: “You know, I’ve been covering the news in American for 30 years and this Kansas situation is the worst thing I’ve ever seen … Americans cannot turn away from this; cannot ignore it. There should be thousands of people demonstrating outside Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita.”
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