Kline happy with Kansas Supreme Court ruling

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Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline breezed through the lobby of his office about five minutes before his scheduled press conference this afternoon. He did a quick double-take when he saw a friendly face, Kansas Liberty minority owner and newly elected Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, and gave her a quick “Hey.”

Journalists had been summoned into Kline’s office where Kline’s attorney Caleb Stegall and chief of staff Eric Rucker waited for moral support. Then Kline called for pencils down, tape recorders and video cameras off. This part of the presser was off the record, he said.

Some super secret things proceeded to be said in Kline’s office. But before he went off the record, Kline let it be known that the initial media stories about the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in the Planned Parenthood case earlier today were wrong.

Stegall did all of the talking. He noted that Kline gets to keep the medical records he obtained during his inquisition into Planned Parenthood; he just has to turn over copies to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. The court didn’t find Kline in contempt or say he violated patient privacy. Stegall wanted you to know that two justices dissented from the majority that sanctioned Kline.

Specifically, Chief Justice Kay McFarland took issue with her fellow justices for denigrating “Kline for actions that it cannot

find to have been in violation of any law” and heaping “scorn upon him for his attitude and behavior

that does not rise to the level of contempt.”

Stegall also highlighted McFarland’s displeasure with the final graph of the court’s ruling, which alludes to “further instances of Kline’s improper conduct” possibly coming “to light” and saying “such conduct may merit contempt, discipline up to and

including disbarment, or other sanctions.”

Yes, Justice Carol Beier had written about the possibility that more examples of “improper conduct” by Kline or his subordinates might come out. “Such actions, standing alone or when considered alongside Kline’s or others’ conduct … may merit civil or criminal contempt, discipline up to and including disbarment,

or other sanctions,” Beier wrote. “Furthermore, the known pattern of obstructive behavior prompting sanctions… may be or become the subject of disciplinary or other actions; a copy of this

opinion will be forwarded to the disciplinary administrator. We rule today only on the

appropriateness of sanctions in this case because of the currently known components of

obstructive behavior regarding this matter.”

Stegall noted Kline’s eagerness to share copies of the records and meet with Kansas Attorney General Steve Six.

The only thing Kline said on the record was that he’s happy with the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling. “I am very pleased that the prosecution can go forward,” Kline said of the 107 criminal charges that the clinic forged documents and illegally performed late-term abortions. He added that Planned Parenthood is “presumed innocent.”

“Thank you,” said Stegall, Kline’s attorney. “That’s all we’ll have on the record.”

And that was it. No more questions. No more comments.

For the guts of this story, check out this report from my favorite Kansas statehouse reporter, John Hanna. — Justin Kendall

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