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Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, whose law license was suspended by the state Supreme Court because of rules violations in a politically charged case where one of his investigation targets had partied with then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to cut through the biases held by state court officials and overturn the decision.
The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court has been filed by the Life Legal Defense Fund on behalf of Kline, who was punished as a result of his incendiary work to investigate and bring into compliance with the law the abortion industry in his state.
The legal ethics case was brought against him after complaints from abortion industry players who had been under investigation for refusing to comply with the state’s abortion reporting laws.
The criminal charges that Kline had filed, with the approval of several judges, against the abortionists were later dropped by Kline’s successors in positions of authority in Kansas.
“The request to the U.S. Supreme Court is loaded with support from other state courts and legal commentators. It asks the court to rein in unforeseeable ‘gotcha’ ethics violations, which are especially relevant to lawyers dealing with politically contentious legal proceedings and invite political ‘witch hunts,'” stated Tom Condit, lead attorney for Kline.
The actual request to the Supreme Court focuses on the state court’s selective application of these “catch-all” attorney disciplinary rules. The result was, according to the brief, that Kline has been punished for his pro-life political views.
In fact, the state court decision in his disciplinary case said essentially that. The judges condemned Kline for his “fervid belief” relating to life issues.
But the problems, according to the brief, were not necessarily Kline’s fault; sometimes not even under his control. The petition charges state court officials with violating, among other limits, the First Amendment.
For example, the petition explains that Kline’s office filed a sealed brief in the Kansas Supreme Court in 2005 that attached parts of the record that also were under seal. These all had to do with Kline’s investigation of abortionist George Tiller’s activities, as well as those of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.
“The attachments contained no confidential information, and Kline wanted to highlight certain arguments made before the district court judge in order to address fears expressed in the media about the investigation. The Supreme Court unsealed the briefs, including Kline’s attachments. In its 2006 … decision, the court declined to hold Kline in contempt for attaching documents he knew the court would later unseal; it found that the public disclosure of lower court pleadings caused no prejudice. … But seven years later, with Kline’s right to practice law on the line, the Supreme Court applied an un-cabined version of Rule 8.4 and reversed itself. What changed? The Supreme Court held that, because Kline’s intent was to inform the public about his investigation, he had ‘prejudiced’ the justice system after all. This – Kline’s motivation – was the cardinal sin.”
Other similarly esoteric situations also were cited by the state court in 2013 when it handed down the penalty, and then refused to explain or comment on inaccuracies in its own paperwork that suggested a bias on the part of the court.
According to his attorneys, the Kansas court officials were guilty of “second-guessing tough judgment calls that Kline was forced to make,” sometimes because of the intervention of court officials themselves.
Dana Cody, president of Life Legal Defense Foundation, said, “Phill Kline’s ethics case has always carried a strong flavor of political persecution, a perception validated by how many of his so-called ‘violations’ arose from factual and legal novelties.”
Cody noted that one disturbing factor in this case is that while Kline was punished harshly for minor, if not irrelevant, inaccuracies in what he and his staff wrote or said, the Kansas Supreme Court opinion was itself “indefensibly wrong” on the facts and the law. The petition does not, she explained, expect the U.S. Supreme Court, having limited jurisdiction, to correct all of those errors but asks the court to rein in how those vague ethics rules can be used to blind-side unsuspecting attorneys.
Kline had probed alleged illegal activity by abortion provider Planned Parenthood and the late abortionist George Tiller, eventually filing charges against them after getting the counts approved by several trial judges in the state.
However, the pro-abortion political powers in the state spelled defeat for Kline in the next election, and his foes launched criminal investigations into his probes of Planned Parenthood and Tiller.
Among the political powers Kline defied was then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who had partied with Tiller, and later was appointed President Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services.
But the state court justices refused even to consider evidence that uncovered their bias against Kline, and refused to explain their decision or provide a comment to the public.
Cody said the state court result was an “outrageous political lynching.”
“Phill courageously fought to enforce the law against abortion providers, particularly Planned Parenthood, and has been paying the price ever since. He deserves a fair hearing before an unbiased tribunal,” Cody said.
Condit said, “The court’s unwillingness to answer Mr. Kline’s challenge to its own distortions will reinforce the belief of many observers that the Kline case was a sham from the beginning.”
A court official, contacted by WND with a request for a comment, said the justices refused to comment. Or explain.
Kline had petitioned the court explaining that the state court justices made mistakes regarding due process, disregarded the principles of enforcement of the law, misrepresented the facts, ignored the official records in the case and violated the First Amendment.
“It is doubtful any criminal suspect in the history of this nation has ever so successfully used a high court to thwart legitimate investigations while persuading the judicial branch of government to put the prosecutor on trial,” Kline’s petition to Kansas judges said.
“While the executive branch of the Kansas government ran cover for two abortion providers by (in one instance) shredding evidence of crimes and (in the other instance) conducting a sham prosecution that did everything but stipulate to the abortion provider’s innocence, the judicial branch pursued a two count, multi-charge disciplinary proceeding against Mr. Kline for alleged ethics violations,” the brief argued.
Kline’s representatives pointed out, “The court then appointed a panel of three Kansas attorneys to preside over Mr. Kline’s ethics trial, two of whom had contributed to Mr. Kline’s political opponents during contested elections and refused to voluntarily disclose that fact. With the process so utterly tainted from the outset, the biased panel’s final report and recommendation appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Ignoring much exculpatory evidence, distorting other evidence to the detriment of Mr. Kline, and finding that Mr. Kline had violated three rules that did not even exist, the panel recommended that Mr. Kline’s law license be suspended indefinitely. Mr. Kline appealed to the same Kansas Supreme Court that had previously displayed such hostility to him in the Alpha and CHPP v. Kline opinions.”
Five members of the state Supreme Court had to recuse themselves from Kline’s case after being accused of issuing a misleading opinion against Kline. They were replaced with other judicial department insiders.
Kline’s submission to the Kansas Supreme Court argued its assumptions were incorrect, because the justices misinterpreted, misstated and misunderstood the state’s law.
Cody told WND she gives Kline great credit for calling out the pro-abortion powers in Kansas, wherever they may be situated.
“He’s got his eye on the prize,” she said. “I can’t speak for him personally … [but he puts] the lives of unborn children as more important than a legal career.”
The bias entrenched in the Kansas court system came to light in a hearing early in the development of Kline’s case. A research clerk, Sarah Peterson Herr, employed by the Kansas Appeals Court, tweeted during the hearing and called Kline a “douchebag,” suggesting she had inside information about how the court would rule in the case.
Among her tweets: “I predict that he will be disbarred for a period not less than 7 years”
“I love that Phil (sic) is talking about Dr. Tiller like they are cool, and not that his witch hunt helped lead to Dr. Tiller’s murder.”
“Why is Phil Klein (sic) smiling? There is nothing to smile about douchebag.”
“You can watch that naughty naughty boy, Mr. Klein, (sic) live!”
Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, which battled Tiller on his home ground in Wichita, pointed out that the brief noted the Supreme Court relied on “perjured testimony” instead of the records of a grand jury.
She also wrote that Kline’s allegations were confirmed with the 2006 rape conviction of Robert Estrada, who began to sexually abuse his two step daughters when they were just 11 and 12 years old.
Estrada impregnated the 12-year-old then took her to a Wichita abortion clinic where she received an abortion without a suspected abuse report being filed, Sullenger said.
Estrada continued to rape both girls for four more years, resulting in a total of four pregnancies.