Kansas panel faults ex-AG Kline on abortion probes

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 14, 2011 12:13 AM
Kansas panel faults ex-AG Kline on abortion probes

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kan (Reuters) - A disciplinary panel on Thursday found "ethical misconduct" in the way a former attorney general of Kansas prosecuted abortion providers and it recommended his law license be suspended indefinitely.

Phill Kline, now a law professor at Liberty University in Virginia, was faulted in a 185-page report for his actions both as state attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and later as district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas.

The recommendation of the Kansas Board of Discipline for Attorneys that Kline be suspended now goes to the Kansas Supreme Court for a final decision.

"The hearing panel concluded that the respondent has repeatedly violated many of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, including the most serious of the rules, the rules that prohibit engaging in false or dishonest conduct," the report stated.

Kline told the board he committed no violations. In an interview Thursday night, Kline said he was not surprised by the board's findings but was concerned.

While he has already lost his Kansas law license for failing to pay an annual registration fee, he said the board finding could affect his ability to teach and practice law anywhere.

"They are taking my livelihood," he said. "All I've wanted to do all my life is practice law."

Kline, an outspoken opponent of abortion, battled for years with abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood over whether they were complying with all abortion laws in the state.

The disciplinary panel found that Kline provided false or misleading information to the courts about how he gained the identities of women who had abortions.

The board also said he allowed redacted medical records be kept at insecure locations and that he discussed an ongoing abortion-related case on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News in 2006.

Kline prosecuted cases involving Planned Parenthood and George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas-based doctor who provided abortions before being murdered in 2009.

In a prepared statement released to the media Thursday night, Kline said: "My 'mistake' was my willingness to investigate politically powerful people and to let that investigation go where the evidence led."

(Editing by James Kelleher and Peter Bohan)