UPDATE: Steve Six was defeated in the mid-term elections of 2010 and was replaced by pro-life supporter Derek Schmidt.
Operation Rescue calls on D.A. Steve Howe to enforce Kansas law and prosecute Planned Parenthood without further delay
-An Operation Rescue Analysis
Topeka, Kansas – Last week the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling remanding a 107-charge criminal case against Planned Parenthood to the District Court for prosecution. The ruling was hailed as a victory for pro-life supporters, including Operation Rescue, which worked for years to see Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood (CHPP) of Overland Park brought to justice.
The Supreme Court opinion attempts to chronicle the history of the case that involves a complex set of legal actions spanning an Attorney General’s inquisition over two administrations, six mandamus actions, three grand juries, three criminal cases, and other legal maneuverings that are enough to make one’s head spin. However, the basic nature of the case is very simple.
CHPP stands accused of 107 criminal violations, including 23 felonies. The evidence that could prove the case has been intentionally locked away by those who put politics and ideology above the laws of the State of Kansas and the well-being of women. Now Kansas Supreme Court has at least partially released the evidence and several witnesses from a gag order that prevented them from testifying in the criminal case.
But a closer look at the ruling, written by noted abortion supporter Justice Carol Beier, reveals a troubling timeline that is disturbing on at least four points:
The ruling, included a partial transcript of Judge Richard Anderson’s testimony at a hearing held on January 16, 2008, where he testified that there were problems with some of the evidence and that it appeared that Planned Parenthood had “cooked the books.” (pgs. 22-23) It includes information that current Kansas Attorney General Steven Six joined sided with Planned Parenthood in seeking to gag the custodian of evidence against Planned Parenthood, District Court Judge Richard Anderson, without supplying the Kansas Supreme Court with pertinent the facts that may have influenced them to allow the case to proceed two years earlier. (pg. 29) It disturbingly notes that Attorney General Steve Six was allowed access to evidence obtained during Kline’s investigations for use in Six’s prosecution of Tiller while Kline was denied access to evidence obtained at the same time in his prosecution of CHPP. (pg. 31) It raises the question of why the Kansas Supreme Court continues to enforce portions of a gag order from a case that was dismissed in January, 2009. (pgs. 47-48)
A long and winding road
To briefly summarize the complex history of this case, in 2003, then-Attorney General Phill Kline launched an inquisition into abortion clinic abuses. He subpoenaed abortion records from CHPP in Overland Park and from George Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita. The abortion clinics resisted the subpoenas, launching a dizzying chain of legal maneuverings over the next three years. During his inquisition, Kline also obtained from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reporting forms that are required for all abortions done after 22 weeks gestation.
Kline eventually received the documents he had requested, with all patient identifying information redacted. That was fine, because Kline never sought the identities of patients. The records contained evidence that would spawn three criminal cases for a grand total of 156 criminal counts against two abortionists.
Kline was replaced as Attorney General in January, 2007, by Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, an avid supporter of abortion. In an unusual turn of events, Kline was appointed to complete Morrison’s unfinished term as Johnson County District Attorney, where he continued his investigations of CHPP that resulted in the current case involving 107 criminal charges.
On June 26, 2007, Morrison issued a letter “clearing” CHPP of any criminal wrong-doing, fulfilling a campaign promise to put an end to the abortion investigations began by his arch-political nemesis, Kline.
Morrison was forced to resign in disgrace in December, 2007, after it was revealed that Morrison had long been involved in an illicit sexual affair with a staff member in the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, then attempted to use that relationship to spy on and otherwise thwart Kline’s continued efforts to investigate abortion abuses.
Former Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who now serves as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration, appointed Steve Six to complete Morrison term as attorney general. Six was sworn in on January 31, 2008.
Judge Anderson wonders who “cooked the books”
Two weeks earlier, on January 16, 2008, Judge Richard Anderson, who oversaw Kline’s inquisition and became the custodian of the evidence, gave testimony at a motion to disqualify CHPP defense attorneys Pedro Irigongaray and Robert V. Eye. He told of Kline coming to him with concerned that records had perhaps been over-redacted, and that is was possible that some documents had been “manufactured.”
Judge Anderson considered these concerns extremely serious, and embarked on his own investigation, taking certain documents to a Topeka Police handwriting expert for analysis. There was a discrepancy and Anderson immediately notified all parties involved. (Click here to view one set of records to see the discrepancy and the heavy redactions for yourself.)
“I had notified everyone that there was a questioned record,” Anderson testified, according to a partial transcript reprinted in the Supreme Court’s opinion. “I had written a letter and…distributed it to Mr. Kline, Mr. Morrison, the disciplinary administrator, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, and said there’s a problem with these records. I am going to sit tight. And I sat down like an old mule and just was going to sit on that until everything was cleared up.”
He also recounted that CHPP attorney Pedro Irigonegaray came to him unannounced and asked that all documents concerning CHPP be returned to him.
Here is Anderson’s account of that meeting (pg. 23):
When I spoke to Mr. Irigonegaray, I pointed out there was a problem. And, you know, I have described this as he looked at me like my golden retriever does when he doesn’t understand. He looked surprised. And I have known him for 25 years and truly he was surprised. He said, ‘You’re unpredictable.’ And as a judge, you don’t like to be called unpredictable because you like to be very deliberate about your rulings.
I have known him for so long, I did what I probably should not have done, but for the relationship, I pulled these records from the file and I said, ‘Pedro, look at these records. There is a problem.’ And I said, Mr. Morrison probably shouldn’t have written that clearance letter like he did.’ Mr. Irigonegaray said, ‘It looks like this is going to last for a while.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And that was the end of the conversation.
I have not tried to make a determination as to whether the lawyers cooked the books. I’ve known you too long. You wouldn’t do that. I don’t know what happened in this production. But I do know that these records and the records that were produced with the medical record are not the same.
Six gags evidence and witnesses
In preparation for a preliminary hearing in the CHPP criminal case, Kline reissued subpoenas to Anderson and the KDHE. A motion to quash the subpoenas was held on April 3, 2008, was taken under advisement. That same day, Steve Six heard about the possibility that evidence could be presented at a preliminary hearing on April 7, 2008, and immediately filed an emergency motion for a protective order with the Kansas Supreme Court.
However, Six withheld important information in his emergency filing. He neglected to tell the Court that Anderson had previously testified at a hearing in January where the “manufactured” records had been discussed. He also failed to mention that the preliminary hearing had been delayed six weeks.
A gag order was issued by the Supreme Court on April 4, 2008, ordering Anderson not to testify or release any documents, while erroneously thinking that the information was still secret and that the preliminary hearing was only a couple of days away.
That gag order stood, delaying the prosecution of CHPP for over two years until last week, when the Supreme Court modified their order to allow Anderson and other to testify. However, the Court continues to block certain documents under the control of the KDHE that could be vital in proving that Planned Parenthood manufactured documents in an effort to cover up for the fact that the documents bearing the determination of fetal age at the time of the abortion were illegally missing from patient records.
“Steve Six has a lot to answer for,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, whose group worked to convene a grand jury and took other actions to help bring CHPP to justice. “The charges of illegal late-term abortions and making false representations to authorities to cover for other crimes are serious charges that deserve to have a fair hearing in court. Steve Six placed himself between a county prosecutor and the perpetrator for the express purpose of concealing evidence of Planned Parenthood’s crimes. That is unconscionable.”
Six gets preferential treatment
While Anderson remained gagged in the CHPP criminal case, Six was exempted from the gag order and was allowed to access evidence gathered by Kline’s investigations to prosecute George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, in March, 2009. That case ended in Tiller’s acquittal. Nevertheless, the treatment of Six’s requests for evidence were granted while Kline’s requests were denied, leaving open speculation that political friendships and feuds have unjustly overruled the doctrine of equal justice under the law.
The next step
The CHPP case is currently under review by Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, who will make a decision whether to drop the case, or proceed with a prosecution. Howe was a political opponent of Kline. A call to his office confirmed that he is still reviewing the case.
“We can only pray that the political feuding that has caused years of delay stops here, and that decisions are made from now on according to evidence and law,” said Newman.
“But given the history of this case, that may be too much to hope for without some urging from the people. The public needs to let Mr. Howe know that the Planned Parenthood case must go to trial to restore public confidence in the system, and to protect women from dishonest and illegal abortionists. We cannot allow wrongdoing, for which there is sufficient evidence, to be swept under the rug. We demand an honest and fair trial. Present the evidence and let a jury decide.”
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe (Ask him to enforce the law and prosecute Planned Parenthood)
Voice: (913) 715-5000
Read the full Supreme Court decision