Today the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling in a long-running case of Planned Parenthood against Phill Kline. The Kansas press seems to miss how bizarre this case is, which was summarized in this brief:
This Court should be under no illusions about what Petitioner [Planned Parenthood] is asking of it. Petitioner, a criminal defendant in a pending criminal proceeding, is asking the Court to strip the prosecutor in that action of evidence lawfully obtained and, essentially give that evidence back to the criminal defendant.
The Court’s findings today were extremely critical of the current Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline but the document was unusual for its political analysis. Why is a “non-political” Supreme Court analyzing politics instead of focusing on issues of law?
When the court discussed a possible $50,000 sanction against Kline, the court said.
We are unwilling to make those taxpayers foot any further bill for the conduct of a district attorney they did not elect in the first place and have now shown the door.
“Shown the door” is some sort of legal description of an election process? When has the legal “shown the door” test been used in other Kansas Supreme Court cases? What is this political analysis doing in the middle of a legal opinion?
Chief Justice Kay McFarland admonishes her fellow justices for their actions in this case:
…the majority is more interested in reprimanding Kline for his attitude and behavior in the course of this litigation than in remediating the failure to leave a complete set of the investigation records for the incoming Attorney General. It appears to me that the majority invokes our extraordinary inherent power to sanction simply to provide a platform from which it can denigrate Kline for actions that it cannot find to have been in violation of any law and to heap scorn upon him for his attitude and behavior that does not rise to the level of contempt. This is the very antithesis of “restraint and discretion” and is not an appropriate exercise of our inherent power.
When has the Kansas press analyzed the extreme abuse of power by the Kansas Supreme Court in the secrecy behind this case? We should be very afraid of our courts when they no longer follow the rule of law.
The Supreme Court without any legal precedent or legal justification allowed a criminal defendant to turn the tables on the prosecutor in the secret proceedings the Court allowed about a year ago. The Supreme Court forced the prosecutor — AT PERSONAL EXPENSE — to defend the action of his office and allowed the defendant to grill the prosecutor.
Everything was kept secret for months until the May 2008 ruling released some of the information from the Nov-Dec 2007 evidentiary hearing. In an unprecedented action, the Supreme Court appointed District Judge David King as the “special master” to answer a list of 17 questions about a year ago. About 10 printed pages of the today’s ruling addressed the responses to these 17 questions from almost a year ago. What Kansas Law allows such secrecy by the Kansas Supreme Court?
The Kansas Supreme Court has the audacity to consider a $50,000 sanction against Kline because he “seriously interfered with this court’s efforts to determine the facts and arrive at resolution” when the Supreme Court itself has done everything it can to hide what is going on in this case, and keep the case from going to trial. Why is the Kansas Supreme Court so afraid of the truth? Political money is one likely explanation.
Perhaps the political make-up of the Supreme Court, and the political make-up of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, explain Kansas Courts are more about politics than the rule of law?
Why did Attorney General Morrison, and now Attorney General Six, refuse to provide state support for District Attorney Kline, the prosecutor, in his legal defense against a criminal defendant in a secret Supreme Court case?
Our Kansas legal system appears to be very broken, and whims of the court can override legal precedents and logic. Now that the Supreme Court itself has ruled that Kline broke no laws, will the Attorney General’s Office pay for Kline’s personal legal bills in his defense of his official duties?
In a press conference at the office of the Johnson County District Attorny, Caleb Stegall commented on today’s Supreme Court ruling:
… I’m one of the attorneys that represents District Attorney Kline … represented him in the case Planned Parenthood vs. Kline. As you all know, this morning the Kansas Supreme Court issued its opinion in that case.
We are pleased that on the substantive legal issues that were presented to the court, District Attorney Kline has prevailed. The primary relief that was requested by Planned Parenthood and by the Attorney General has been denied by the court. Mr. Kline was not ordered to disgorge the records of issue. Rather he was ordered to provide a complete copy, or set of those records, to the Attorney General.
Mr. Kline was not held in contempt. Mr. Kline was not held to have acted in any way in bad faith. Mr. Kline was not held to have violated any constitutional privacy right of any patient or to have violated his oath of office. That is the substantive ruling of the court’s opinion this morning. In addition, no attorneys’ fees were awarded. They were requested by Planned Parenthood.
. . .
Justice Davis wrote:
“…The majority is not measuring [Kline's] action against any statue, rule, or other established standard, except to say that counsel Kline has not treated this action or this court with the respect demanded in such a proceeding.”
Chief Justice McFarland:
“There is no finding that the conduct that the majority sanctions was committed in bad faith. Absent a specific finding of bad faith conduct, the court cannot impose sanctions under our inherent power. … The majority’s grievances with Kline’s conduct focus on the perception that Kline and his subordinates have shown a lack of respect for the court and the rule of law.”
Johnson County District Attorney, Phill Kline, made only a brief statement:
I am very pleased that the prosecution can go forward. I must mention as a point of Kansas ethics, that Planned Parenthood is presumed innocent as a matter of law.
Kline or Stegall did not take questions, likely to avoid letting the press spin the story by taking responses to questions out of context.
The so-called sanction imposed by the Supreme Court was for Kline to provide a copy of the records to the Attorney General, and at the A.G.’s request, meet with the Attorney General.
Will Attorney General Six, and the newly elected Johnson County District Attorney, Steve Howe, have the courage to follow the law in this case? Will the political activists, who claim there is no politics in our court system, win their political battle?
- The Kansas Supreme Court: Empty words, Kansas Liberty, Dec 19, 2008.
- Pro-aborts lose another round to Phill Kline, Jill Stanek on WorldNetDaily, Dec 10, 2008.
- Planned Parenthood vs JoCo DA Phill Kline with Intervener AG Six, Kansas Supreme Court, Dec 5, 2008.
- Did $13,000 given to Gov. Sebelius play part in Supreme Court Nominating Commission appointment?, Kansas Meadowlark, June 28, 2008.
- Respondent’s Brief, Planned Parenthood & A.G. Six vs. Phill Kline, May 28, 2008.
- Updated Political Profile of Members of the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission, Kansas Meadowlark, Dec 16, 2007.
- Why all the secrecy in the Kansas Supreme Court?, Kansas Meadowlark, Dec 4, 2007.
- Why did a Kansas Supreme Court Justice Change Political Parties?, Kansas Meadowlark, Dec 4, 2007.
- “Alpha Beta” case, Kansas Supreme Court (Law suit by Tiller’s Clinic and Planned Parenthood against Judge Richard Anderson and Attorney General Phill Kline), Feb 2006.