Phillip Kline, former Kansas attorney general and Johnson County district attorney was suspended from practicing law by the Kansas Supreme Court for misconduct in his investigation of abortion clinics while he was attorney general, and from his handling of a grand jury proceeding while Johnson County’s district attorney. The story apparently did not make the major news outlets, but there was local coverage that summarized the disciplinary ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court, and which provided the basis for some of this diary.
Kline was frequently exposed on Daily Kos and in other blogs for his witch-hunts and politically based persecution of clinics operated by the late George Tiller in Wichita, and by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, as well as for falsely accusing Tiller and the clinics of violating Kansas’ abortion law as well as shielding pedophiles. Kline’s investigation of Planned Parenthood produced a 107-count criminal indictment, but the case was later dropped by Kline’s successor, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe as having no merit.
The disciplinary proceedings against Kline began in January 2010 when complaints were filed by Tiller’s attorney and the forewoman of a Johnson County grand jury called to investigate Planned Parenthood. The complaint accused Kline of misleading judges and mishandling evidence as he investigated abortion clinics.
The Kansas Supreme Court found that Kline committed misconduct by instructing members of his staff to attach sealed documents to a publicly filed document in violation of a Supreme Court order, and causing the filing of misleading information with the court. In addition, the Supreme Court held Kline failed to properly advise members of a grand jury about Kansas law and sought to enforce a grand jury subpoena against the grand jury’s wishes. Other violations that were used as the basis of Kline’s discipline were that he gave false testimony to a judge and made false and misleading statements to the Supreme Court about his handling of patient records obtained during the criminal investigations.
The court cited three aggravating factors to support the indefinite suspension: selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct and his refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of any of his misconduct.
Despite the findings of wrongdoing (and maybe because of it) Kline is has been earning a comfortable living teaching law at Liberty University Law School in Virginia, a private Evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell. The dean at the Liberty University Law School has previously said he didn’t think the suspension of Kline’s law license would affect his ability to teach there.
According to the Kansas City Star, “Planned Parenthood said 'throughout this long ordeal Mr. Kline was pursuing a political witch hunt based on his ideological and political views, not the law,' Brownlie stated. “Today’s unanimous decision confirms we were right.”'