KAKE - Find It - Monday Headlines

Former AG Testifies In Abortion Hearing

By: Cayle Thompson Email
By: Cayle Thompson Email

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Update - Monday, 5:00pm

Court is in recess until Tuesday morning at 9:00. Phill Kline will return Friday to continue his testimony, cut short today by an out-of-town committment.

Defense attorney Dan Monnat says he anticipates Paul Morrison will take the stand on Wednesday or Thursday.

Read below or click the video link to see today's courtroom proceedings.

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Update - Monday, 2:05pm

(Because of time restraints, updates for the remainder of the afternoon may be sporadic. Look for complete reports on KAKE News at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 tonight.)

Tiller's attorneys say Kline knew he would have trouble getting the information he wanted from SRS given his recent AG opinion on abortion and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.

Kline says he did not want media attention drawn to the case as it could injure the investigation. Kline also says he did not notify the governor of his investigation because there is no requirement that he do so.

Tiller's attorneys accuse Kline of using "confidential, reliable sources" in the investigation that were decidedly pro-life. Kline denies the assertion.

Because of a scheduling conflict, Phil Kline is dismissed from court at 2:00. He will be back to continue his testimony on Friday.

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Update - Monday, 1:45pm

Court resumed at 1:00.

Kline is back on the stand, discussing his inquisition into Dr. Tiller and patient records. Tiller's attorneys say after two years of investigating, Kline never filed a "Failure to Report" charge against the doctor for not disclosing possible cases of child sexual abuse.

Kline says an underage woman who is pregnant is the victim of a crime. He says Tiller should have reported such patients to SRS because of possible abuse.

Tiller's attorneys accuse Kline of beginning their investigation into the doctor before Kline had even published his written opinion on the matter of underage pregnancies, abortion providers, and mandatory reporting. In that opinion, Kline wrote that an underage woman seeking an abortion has inherently been injured, and thus that crime should be reported by professionals.

Kline says his investigation into abortion providers such as Tiller began after SRS records began to show that an average of 75 girls under the age of 14 received an abortion in any given year in Kansas, but that those were not reported by professionals. State laws mandate authorities be notified if there is evidence of abuse.

Tiller's attorneys show the court a confidential memo between Kline and members of his office during his tenure as AG. The memo states agents are to request SRS produce the numbers for minor victims of sexual abuse. The memo states SRS was not to know about the investigation into Tiller. The memo outlined a multi-step "plan" for how to go about the investigation.

Kline says it's typical in any investigation that you do not reveal to witnesses the scope of the investigation.

Tiller's attorneys maintain it would have been easier to tell SRS workers the investigation was confidential and details could not be shared as to why the information was needed, but that Kline's office instead lied and tried to distract SRS officials from the true nature of the investigation.

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Court is in recess for lunch. The hearing will resume at 1:00.

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Update - Monday, 10:45

Tiller's attorneys ask Kline if he was wanting to challenge the state laws or the Kansas Supreme Court rulings on late-term abortion. Kline says he was not. He says his case against Kline came from physical evidence and statements made by Tiller himself.

Kline says he received campaign contributions from pro-life activists in his race for the AG's seat.

Tiller's attorneys discuss the state's law requiring the reporting of child sexual abuse by professionals. Kline says he was asked by others how the law applied to abortion providers.

Kline, in summarizing a previous AG's written opinion, says pregnancy of a minor in itself is not evidence of injury to a child. However, he says it's a case-by-case basis that should be investigated by the professional handling the minor.

Tiller's attorneys say that means a doctor is not required to report every underaged pregnancy when there is no evidence of abuse or injury.

But Kline counters, saying an underaged girl seeking an abortion is doing so because the pregnancy has, in some way, injured her... and that such injury warrants investigation.

In office, Kline issued a new, broader opinion. He said sex with an underage child is rape and inherently injurious. He believes any evidence of sex with a minor should be reported.

Kline says abortion providers should be required to report every underage woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Kline says this is because law enforcement, once notified, can more thoroughly and accurately decide whether a crime has been comitted than a doctor.

Court is in recess for 15 minutes.

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Update - Monday, 10:10am

Phil Kline takes the stand moments after opening statements end. Kline is currently the District Attorney in Johnson County, having previously held the job of Kansas Attorney General for one term.

In the first line of questioning, Kline tells the court he is adamantly opposed to abortion and believes it should be made illegal. He says for the state to be known as the Abortion Capital of America brings shame on Kansas. He made his views on abortion an issue during his campaign for the AG's office in 2001, when he said he would enforce state laws regarding late-term abortions.

Kline says during his campaign, he had reason to believe Tiller was violating the state's late-term abortion law. Although he says he personally disagreed with the law allowing a late-term abortion if the mother's mental health was seriously impacted, he says it did not have an impact on the case.

What impacted the case, he says, is the medical belief that certain conditions - such as anxiety and adjustment disorder - were neither permanent nor substantial, as required by law in order to obtain a late-term abortion.

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Update -- Monday, 9:45am

In opening statements, defense attorney Dan Monnat announces plans to call former Attorney General Phil Kline in this morning. His testimony is expected to last most of the day.

Monnat says the charges filed against Tiller are the product of outrageous government conduct violating the Constitution. He says the charges come as a result of opinions and personal problems of two former Attorneys General.

Monnat says both Phil Kline and Paul Morrison acted with arrogance and disrespect towards the laws protective private citizens, such as Tiller, in their so-called witch hunt to find he somehow broke the law.

Monnat says the conduct of the former attorneys general was poisoned and unethical. Monnat says current AG Steven Six, although defending the actions of his predecessors, also called the investigation unethical.

Monnat says when Morrison took over the investigation, he received all the evidence Kline had gathered "on a silver platter," which should itself mean the case should be dismissed.

Prosecutor Barry Disney with the Attorney General's office says this is a dangerous case. Disney says at the bottom of this case is Tiller's desire to have his charges dismissed without having to answer to the validity of the charges in the first place. Disney says rather than show the charges are false, he's attempting to navigate the legal system and have the case thrown out based on the conduct and actions of those prosecuting him.

Disney agrees there was previous conduct in the AG's office of which the current administration does not approve, but that it doesn't rise to the level of dismissing the charges against Tiller as they cannot show the charges are without merit.

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Update -- Monday, 9:15am

For the first time since 19 misdemeanor charges were filed against him by former Attorney General Paul Morrison, Dr. George Tiller is in court, flanked by his attorneys who are expected to ask a judge to either supress evidence in the case against him -- or dismiss charges altogether.

Monday's pre-trial motion hearing is expected to last a better part of this week.

Tiller was charged in 2007 with violating a state law requiring all late-term abortions receive a second, independent Kansas doctor's approval. Prosecutors say the doctor whom Tiller worked with was financially linked to him.

The investigation into Tiller was carried out primarily by former Republican AG Phil Kline. Tiller's attorneys say Kline acted outrageously in his attempts to secure private, confidential patient records in his attempts to find evidence Tiller broke the law.

Kline was voted out of office before charges could be filed, and went on to become the Johnson County District Attorney -- a seat vacated by Democratic challenger and new AG Paul Morrison.

Less than a year later, Morrison resigned from office after it came to light he had an extra-marrital affair. Tiller's attorneys say Morrison's mistress urged him to file the charges against the Wichita doctor while she was working under Phil Kline in his Johnson County office.


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