Topeka, KS – The Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today before a packed gallery about whether or not District Attorney Phill Kline should be allowed to maintain possession of working copies of heavily redacted abortion records that he obtained as Attorney General and transferred to himself when he assumed the office of Johnson County District Attorney.
Planned Parenthood sued Kline for the return his copies of evidence, which Kline later used to base 107 criminal charges against the Overland Park abortion clinic. Attorney General Steve Six intervened in the suit on behalf of Planned Parenthood in an attempt to strip Kline of the evidence.
In fact, Deputy Attorney General Michael Leitch made the argument that Kline did not transfer the records but took them from the Attorney General’s office, something even Planned Parenthood is not claiming. Leitch made the ridiculous claim that because Kline transferred the records from the Attorney General’s office, which he held at the time of the transfer, to himself as District Attorney, it was akin to taking the furniture and wall hangings when he left the AG’s office.
Leitch was questioned by Justices if he really wanted to hang his case on that argument.
The question was asked if there would be a problem with Kline asking Six to allow him the use of the records for his criminal prosecution, if he was to be ordered to surrender the records to the Attorney General’s office. Kline told the Court during extensive and unexpected questioning that he had asked the Attorney General’s office about that possibility, and he was told such a request would be denied.
“Never before in history has an Attorney General’s office showed such vitriolic opposition to the prosecution of crimes,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who was present at today’s hearing. “Mr. Leitch’s arguments were embarrassingly absurd and defied all logic. It was as if Planned Parenthood was signing his paycheck.”
Planned Parenthood is alleging that the transfer the records placed the privacy of women at risk, even though all patient identifying information had been redacted. It is asking for a contempt of court finding and sanctions against Kline, in addition to his relinquishment of the evidence against them.
Kline and his attorney Caleb Stegall made the arguments that Kline, with the permission of Judge Richard Anderson, exercised his discretion as Attorney General to transfer the evidence. Since there are no laws or orders of the court that dictate procedures for such transfers, there should be no contempt finding, and Kline should be allowed to continue possession of the working copies for the purpose of prosecuting crimes.
Judge Richard Anderson is in possession of the original copies of the late-term abortion evidence that will be used at time of trial. Attorney General Six is also suing Anderson for the return of those documents to the Attorney General’s office. If successful, it would effectively thwart Kline’s prosecution of Planned Parenthood.
“Based on the arguments we heard, we are confident that Kline should prevail and be allowed to proceed with his prosecution,” said Newman. “However, the Court has yet to rule. What should happen and what will happen could very well be two different things. If Kline is ordered to surrender his evidence, it will be grievous miscarriage of justice and will only add fuel to the suspicions of corruption at the highest levels.”