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The National Lawyers Association has filed a brief with Kansas courts in defense of the state’s former attorney general, Phill Kline, who was targeted by abortionists and their attorneys after he filed criminal counts against two businesses, including that of the late George Tiller, a friend of then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Kline also is being defended in a brief filed in his disciplinary case by Life Legal Defense Foundation, which said officers of the court system have “stretched” the facts to sustain a complaint against Kline.
Kline raised the ire of the abortion industry and its connected political influences in Kansas several years ago by investigating whether abortionists routinely violated state law by performing abortions on underage girls, who themselves were evidence of sexual assault on a child, and then not reporting the cases.
Charges were filed against Planned Parenthood as well as Tiller’s abortion business, but the politically connected abortionists later saw charges dropped or were acquitted on the few remaining.
What’s pending now is a disciplinary case in the state Supreme Court against Kline brought by those linked to the cases Kline filed over alleged failure to report suspected child sex abuse.
The complaints were filed even though Kline’s actions were subject to and approved by judges at every stage of his attempted prosecutions, the briefs explained. In fact, the issues that form the basis for the complaints already have been litigated and resolved in Kline’s favor, they explain.
“They stretched the facts to the breaking point in an effort to find hidden dishonesty and improper motives,” said Allison Aranda, LLDF’s senior staff counsel. “As an attorney, I hope I am never judged by the same ‘standard,’ because if I am, I and every attorney I know should lose our licenses to practice. This is a patent attempt to harm Mr. Kline, but serves no interest of the profession.”
Kline no longer is in public office in Kansas, but over the past six years his critics repeatedly have alleged he violated the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct. Last year, a panel of the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator made findings that he breached those rules and recommended indefinite suspension of Kline’s license.
The case further is complicated because five of the seven justices on the state Supreme Court have recused themselves because of their involvement earlier in the dispute between abortionists and Kline.
LDF attorneys reviewed the panel’s findings and “were shocked at the lengths to which it went to impugn Kline’s character.”
“For example, in one instance the panel found a violation based on statements of an investigator working under Kline,” the organization explained. “The statement, made while seeking records pursuant to a pending criminal investigation, was objectively true, but did not give all the reasons for the investigation. The panel viewed this withholding of information to equal misleading and dishonesty. As LLDF’s amicus brief pointed out, lawyers posture on behalf of their clients every day and sometimes this means withholding nonmaterial information, particularly in the context of criminal investigations. This is not a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.”
The organization is urging the court to reject the recommendations from the disciplinary panel.
“Cases in which LLDF has participated … show that abortion providers are particularly unlikely to report suspected abuse. If prosecutors who should be enforcing the law for the benefit of abuse victims are afraid to do so because of political ramifications, those who are really harmed are the victims of the abuse,” the organization said.
The National Lawyers Association emphasized that “respected judicial officers” previously considered and rejected the claims that now are being pursued again through a disciplinary proceeding.
“Even after learning that these allegations had failed in previous proceedings involving the complainants in this matter, the [disciplinary administrator] continued to pursue the same allegations. … Incredibly, at times, the DA’s formal complaint copied word for word the very same arguments that had been made by the complainants (attorneys for the abortion clinics) in a prior proceeding.”
The filing continued, “The use of the disciplinary process to allow the complainants a third bite at the same apple perverts the purpose of the disciplinary process and undermines the public policies undergirding collateral estoppel.”
The state court official “is attempting here to utilize multiple proceedings and forums to litigate previously discredited claims against the same defendant, Phill Kline.”
“Despite the findings of two other courts, and despite the findings of his own investigators, the DA continues to assert these failed claims against Kline, requiring needless expenditure of both time and money, wasting judicial resources and undermining public confident in the courts,” the filing said.
Further, the association brief said, the court’s now are trying to apply rules retroactively.
“Taken together, the DA’s and complainants’ conduct suggest that a serious misuse of the disciplinary process has been taking place over the protracted pendency of this disciplinary proceeding – a misuse that threatens the very legitimacy of the disciplinary process,” the lawyers wrote.
WND reported just weeks ago that a separate ethics complaint filed against state Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe for their decision to drop the last of the pending charges in the case against abortion giant Planned Parenthood would be investigated.
Word of the decision comes from Operation Rescue, which filed the request.
The group said it was told by the state Office of the Disciplinary Administrator that the ethics complaints against Schmidt and Howe “have been docketed and will be investigated.”
Operation Rescue Senior Policy Adviser Cheryl Sullenger alleged professional misconduct, because state officials apparently lied to a district court judge in a series of events that resulted in the fraudulent dismissal of 107 criminal charges against Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.
The Planned Parenthood branch had been charged by Kline in 2007 with conducting illegal late-term abortions and manufacturing evidence to cover crimes. The last of the charges were dismissed in August.
Sullenger had obtained documentation through an open-records act request from Shawnee County Judge Richard Anderson that suggested evidence Howe and Schmidt claimed was destroyed actually still existed months later.
The representations were made when Howe persuaded District Court Judge Stephen Tatum to drop the most serious charges against Planned Parenthood.
The records Sullenger obtained – and submitted with her ethics complaints – show that Howe and Schmidt knew Anderson maintained possession of the evidence when they told Tatum the evidence has been destroyed and the charges should be dropped.
“We understand that prosecutors have wide authority to determine what cases will be prosecuted, but they do not have the authority to lie to a judge and deceive the public in order to destroy a prosecution, and that is exactly what Schmidt and Howe did,” said Sullenger.
“We caught them red-handed engaging in professional misconduct and have the documents to prove it,” said Sullenger. “Right now there is no confidence that our current abortion laws will be enforced. If Schmidt and Howe would go to these lengths to destroy a strong case against Planned Parenthood in which three Kansas judges have ruled probable cause exists to believe crimes were committed, they certainly won’t enforce any other abortion law, leaving the lives of women at risk. Since Schmidt and Howe used deception to justify their refusal to enforce Kansas law, resignation is not only called for, but is necessary to protect women from abortion businesses that break the law,” she said.