Above the law or victim of a prosecutor's obsession?
Dr. George Tiller, who is among the nation's few late-term abortion providers, filed papers Monday seeking to suppress evidence in a criminal case against him, claiming outrageous conduct by former state Attorney General Phill Kline.
Tiller's attorneys contend Kline targeted the doctor and other abortion providers for prosecution starting the day he took office in January 2003.
"It is the favorite child of an obsessed politician animated by personal hostility," the defense wrote.
Tiller faces 19 misdemeanor charges for allegedly breaking a 1998 state law requiring that a second, independent Kansas physician sign off on most late-term abortions.
"The case has from the outset, been saturated with lies, reckless conduct, and negligence," the motion said. "No change in the administration of the Attorney General's office, or in the nature of the charges against Dr. Tiller, can untaint this prosecution."
Paul Morrison was Johnson County's district attorney for 18 years before switching to the Democratic Party to challenge Kline, a GOP conservative, for attorney general. Morrison won. Republicans then picked Kline to take over as county prosecutor.
The state's current attorney general, Steve Six, inherited the case after Morrison stepped down amid a scandal over his affair with a woman who had worked for him.
"We are reviewing the motion and will file an appropriate response," Six spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said.
Kline defended his investigation of Tiller.
"Every judge that has seen the evidence has found probable cause that Mr. Tiller committed crimes. Patient names are not a part of the record, and it is clear Mr. Tiller and his attorneys believe he is above the law," Kline said.
"The only question remaining is whether this court will work as some other courts have done to delay or set aside a legitimate case solely because it involves Mr. Tiller and abortion," he added.
Tiller is accused of violating the state's late-term abortion law requiring two doctors, without financial or legal ties, to conclude that if the pregnancy continues, the mother will die or face "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," which has been interpreted to include mental health.
Tiller relied on Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who prosecutors contend had a financial relationship with Tiller that violated the law.
According to the defense motion:
- Prosecutors allegedly presented misleading and false statements in the investigation and subpoena applications to Shawnee County District Richard Anderson.
- While the Kansas Supreme Court considered an appeal of the subpoenas for Tiller's patient records, prosecutors allegedly obtained under false pretenses a court order directing a Wichita hotel to provide registration records of guests receiving a medical discount. The hotel was used at the time by Tiller's out-of-town patients, and agents matched hotel records with records that all abortion providers are required to give to the state to discover the names of Tiller's patients who were under the age of 16, meaning they legally couldn't consent to sex.
- A memo drafted to the attorneys general from Florida, Michigan and Texas detailing possible cases of child abuse in their jurisdictions, based on the hotel records, indicates that Kline wanted help to get medical records while his own subpoena for the files was on hold. The memo stated that investigations by those states might allow Kline to get access to Tiller's patient files.
- As state attorney general, Kline's office invited anti-abortion activists to participate in the investigation.
A hearing on the defense motion is scheduled for Nov. 17.