Posted Feb 24, 2011 08:34 pm CST
Under fire for allegedly mishandling sensitive patient records from an abortion doctor in addition to other claimed violations of attorney ethics rules, a former attorney general of Kansas and district attorney has contended the disciplinary case against him is politically motivated.
But the No. 2 man in the AG’s office under Phill Kline testified today that he was “surprised,” “perplexed” and “upset” when he learned that the patient records were neither in the AG’s office nor in Kline’s new office, where he was then serving as Johnson County District Attorney, for approximately one month in early 2007, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Tom Williams, the chief investigator in the AG’s office, to whom Rucker conveyed Kline’s order to copy and transfer the records on the morning of Jan. 8, 2007, a few hours before he was to step down from the AG job, also was frustrated, according to Rucker. Williams asked Rucker to explain who had given him authority to make that order, and Rucker said he was conveying instructions from the attorney general, the newspaper article recounts.
Earlier, Williams told the same ethics panel that he couldn’t find what he felt was a safe location in the Johnson County Courthouse for the patient records and hence had them stored in an unspecified employee’s home in the interim.
The abortion doctor at issue was Dr. George Tiller, who was subsequently gunned down in a Wichita church, not long after he was acquitted in 2009 in a misdemeanor case brought by Kline’s successor.
A third member of of Kline’s team at the AG’s office previously explained that the probe focused on late-term abortions and potential sexual assaults of underage patients that possibly weren’t being reported to authorities, in contravention of state law. The investigation goal, he said, was “to shut Mr. Tiller down.”
Today is the fourth day of hearings before a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys in Kline’s case, the Associated Press reports.
After the panel makes its recommendations, it will be up to the state supreme court to determine whether Kline should be disciplined and, if so, how.
Kline was AG from 2003 to 2007 and DA from 2007 to 2009. He is now a visiting assistant professor of law at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va.
Related earlier coverage:
ABAJournal.com: “Former Kansas AG Accused of Ethics Missteps in Abortion Probes”
ABAJournal.com: “Late-Term Abortion Doc Acquitted of 19 Charges”
ABAJournal.com: “AG Orders US Protection for ‘Appropriate’ Facilities After Abortion Doc Killed”
ABAJournal.com: “Roeder Gets Harshest Possible ‘Hard 50’ Life Term in Kansas Abortion Doc Murder”