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Archive for the ‘Kansas Courts’ Category

Hon. Thomas Malone

Hon. Thomas Malone

A rotten district court ruling is too hot to handle and the proper court of review doesn’t want to deal with it. Guess why? The revoked medical licensee is an abortionist.

In a technical legal dodge on Friday, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that that it is too early for them to review an appeal by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts in the matter of abortionist Kris Neuhaus.

The Board revoked her license in July 2012, after a six day hearing under State Administrative Law Judge Edward Gashler in which he found that, “the care and treatment of 11 patients [obtaining late-term abortions in 2003] was seriously jeopardized” by Neuhaus. (More posts here, here, here and here)

But that finding was blocked March 7, 2014 by Shawnee District Court Judge Franklin Theis, opining that the Board ‘over-punished’ Neuhaus for “being sloppy,” taking “short cuts,” and showing “inconsistent attention to proper protocols.”

Days later, the Board appealed. Kansas Court of Appeals chief Judge Thomas Malone issued a 2-page order Friday, claiming Theis’ order did not constitute a “final ruling” that they can review and that the Board had not yet reconsidered sanctions –as ordered by the district court.

The Court of Appeals wants the Board to go away and follow Theis’ order—but that order is exactly what the Board wants the higher court to reverse!

The Board is left with 3 legal options:

  1. ask for reconsideration by the same Court of Appeals that doesn’t want to do so,
  2. ask the state Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeals position,
  3. go back in session to issue a revised sanction of Neuhaus.

Neuhaus’ lawyers found arguably the best activist judge in the state to take review –Shawnee District Court Judge Franklin Theis. Theis’ sympathies were revealed early on, when the state asked for a bond to recoup further court costs from Neuhaus and Theis said the appeal would proceed without any hope of repayment. He later ruled on the abortionist’s behalf, “there is not sufficient proof to support the board’s findings of ‘professional incompetency’…based on Neuhaus’ failure to maintain adequate records to support the diagnosis.”

NEUHAUS’ LONG-TIME INCOMPETENCE
The inability to do proper patient intake was the subject of disciplinary action against Neuhaus from 1999-2001, when the Board labeled her,“a danger to the public.” Unfortunately, the Board allowed her to keep her license, and she used it to rubber-stamp “mental health” exemption referrals –onsite –for George Tiller, enabling him to proceed with post-viability abortions.

Concerning those notorious referrals, Judge Gashler’s decision upholding the revocation included this:
“There is no indication that the Licensee [Neuhaus] on any occasion actually conversed with a patient concerning the items necessary for a competent mental health examination to be completed… In some cases, the patients were, according to the Licensee’s diagnosis, suicidal. Yet, in not one single case did the Licensee make any recommendations that the patient be seen by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or any other type of mental health worker. The Licensee simply referred each patient for a pregnancy termination.”

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts needs to keep its new-found resolve to discipline dangerous abortionists, and challenge this new Court of Appeals ruling.

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Past Board director enabled Neuhaus

Past Board director, Larry Buening, enabled Neuhaus

The Kansas State Healing Arts Board voted unanimously Friday evening to appeal the March 7 district court ruling overturning its July 2012 license revocation of former abortionist Ann Kristin (Kris) Neuhaus.

After nine-months’ reflection, Judge Franklin R. Theis issued a very pro-abortion ruling, sending the issue back to the Board for “review,” opining that it was wrong to take away Neuhaus’ license.

Neuhaus does not have a current Kansas license to practice medicine, even in a restricted manner, but this ruling allows her to apply for one—though it is exceedingly doubtful the Board would approve it.

Neuhaus lost her license for repeatedly breaking the state rules on medical record-keeping and patient exams. Specifically, she had issued the required ‘validation’ for third-trimester abortions for 11 young teens in 2003 under the claim that the girls would otherwise suffer “irreparable and sustainable” mental harm. (read more here)

Those 11 cases originated in medical files that had been acquired by then-Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline. Kline had obtained the records in an attempt (thwarted under then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the state Supreme Court) to prosecute the late George Tiller for abusing the law on exceptions to the Kansas ban on post-viability abortions.

Judge Theis ruled, “there is not sufficient proof to support the board’s findings of ‘professional incompetency’…based on Neuhaus’ failure to maintain adequate records to support the diagnosis.” Instead, he

opined that the Board had, in essence, ‘over-punished’ Neuhaus for “being sloppy,” taking “short cuts,” and showing “inconsistent attention to proper protocols.”

Excuse me, Judge, but not being able to find evidence of the nature of the patient’s problems from Neuhaus’ own scanty notations and checkbox-formatted computer printouts IS the point!

The administrative court opinion (upholding the Board’s complaint) ruled there was no evidence “of any examination nor…of what transpired between the patient and licensee [Neuhaus].” Yet this was supposedly a ‘referral’ by a second, so-called independent, doctor that an abortion was the recommended solution to an irreversible mental health problem.

Obviously, the Board believes it more than ‘made its case’ and will not ‘rethink’ its sanction. In a quickly convened, 22-minute meeting conducted by phone Friday evening (with discussion by the members closed to the public), the Board chose to get Theis’ ruling voided through an appeal to the state court of appeals.

Frankly, the corrupt, past Healing Arts Board Executive Director, Larry Buening, is squarely to blame for Neuhaus, and enabling the illegal abortions of thousands of viable unborn children.

According to 2009 court testimony, Buening helped Wichita abortionist Tiller find a Kansas licensed doctor willing to ‘rubber stamp’ post-viability abortions as being authorized under a mental health exemption. Buening recommended Neuhaus, and helped steer the Board to allow her to keep her license after she had lost federal drug privileges and been found repeatedly unable to properly evaluate, examine, monitor and discharge patients.

But this well-documented pattern of Neuhaus’ inability to do the bare essentials of medical intake was downplayed by Theis. Other errors in this wrong-headed ruling will be further examined in an upcoming post.

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Failed Neuhaus

Kris Neuhaus

Late Friday, Shawnee County District Judge Franklin R. Theis quietly issued a ruling in favor of former abortionist Ann Kristen (Kris) Neuhaus, overturning the State Healing Arts Board’s July 2012 revocation of her license and wiping out her $93,000.00 debt of assessed court costs. (Note, Neuhaus has already achieved $63,000.00 to pay that debt, pledged here.)

Neuhaus’ license was revoked for negligence and failing to meet the standard of care in eleven cases in 2003, in which she had “approved” young teens  to obtain post-viability abortions from the late George Tiller in Wichita, on grounds that –without those abortions–they would suffer irreversible mental harm. (see more info herehere, and here)

The Board’s revocation case had gone to trial under administrative law judge Edward Gashler, who ruled that Neuhaus had demonstrably failed to keep accurate and complete medical records, as required by law.

Neuhaus’ inability to practice medicine was long documented in her disciplinary history, first with limitations in 1999 due to “failure to maintain complete and accurate records.” Soon after, the Board found in 2000 and 2001 that Neuhaus violated the standard of care due to “no focused physical examination,” failure in “ monitoring vital signs”, and “no anesthesia record”—actions the Board said “create a danger to the public.”

While Theis upheld Neuhaus’ record-keeping failure, he overturned Gashler’s assessment that Neuhaus had “seriously jeopardized” patients’ care with inadequate mental health exams. Theis sent the case back to the State Healing Arts Board for review.

As reported by the Associated Press, executive director, Kathleen Lippert Seltzer, said the Board will meet within the month to decide whether to rehear the case or instead, file an appeal of Theis’ decision.
(UPDATE Mar. 14: Board  unanimously agreed to appeal Thies’ ruling; see AP story)

AP also quoted Bob Eye, one of Neuhaus’ attorneys, as saying Theis’ ruling is “pretty consistent” with their arguments.  Gee, what a surprise—Theis is on their side?

ABORTION LAWYER SAVES JUDGE
Eye’s former law partner, Planned Parenthood counsel Pedro Irigonegaray, orchestrated (and helped fund) a successful last-minute rescue of Theis’ job in 2004. This was a response to an ad hoc group of Shawnee County citizens who were justifiably outraged at Theis’ leniency to child molesters in three cases and sought his defeat.  However, with the help of Irigonegaray and attorney donations for TV and radio ads, Theis eked out a narrow 51% victory. (read more here and here)

Pro-lifers are infuriated that this same Judge Theis has been “sitting on” another Kansas abortion lawsuit, brought against the Kansas 2011 abortion clinic regulation law. Theis has indefensibly allowed NO ACTION to proceed in this lawsuit brought by the Overland Park abortion duo of Herb Hodes and daughter Traci Nauser. The 2011 law—which is not in effect to Theis’ stubborn inaction for over two years—would:

  • create licensure standards for abortion businesses with requisite hospital privileges;
  • allow Health department inspections, including one annual unannounced visit;
  • mandate reporting of abortion-caused injuries;
  • insure chemical abortions are administered in person (not via “webcam”).

Kansans for Life has prioritized educating pro-lifers about the dire need for reforming the judicial nominating procedure in our state, to be more reflective of the Kansas public and less a tool of the abortion industry.  Judge Franklin Theis is a prime example of the need for such reform.

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Father/daughter abortionists Hodes & Nauser

Traci Nauser & Herb Hodes

The Kansas 2013 Pro-Life Protections Act creates pro-life public policies permissible under U.S. Supreme Court abortion rulings, but that hasn’t stopped abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser from trying to stop it.

Last week, attorneys for the father-daughter abortion team at the Kansas City-suburban Center for Women’s Health asked the district court to throw out the entire law before their lawsuit goes to trial.  They want a ruling on whether the Act contained more than one subject, violating the rule of statutory construction.

AP’s John Hanna reported on the filing and cites several recent (non-abortion) state court cases that show little support for any success by lawsuits claiming Kansas laws violated the “single subject” mandate.  This is not surprising, as the state’s drafting department is well aware of this requirement and is very careful to advise when proposed legislation might need to be segmented into separate bills.

The Pro-Life Protections Act states that it “concerns abortion” and contains a sex-selection abortion ban, abortion-related tax funding limits, and abortion informed consent provisions. Nevertheless, abortion lawyers call it a “hodgepodge” and specifically—and absurdly –claim that two sections have no relation to abortion because they do not actually use the word ‘abortion’ in the provisions.

The sections they criticize are:

  1. Section 2, asserting the state will protect interests of the unborn child and his/her parents (taken verbatim from the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court Webster ruling), and
  2. Section 9, adopting the 2008 Kennedy-Brownback federal bill to provide enhanced counseling for medically challenging prenatal diagnoses.

The abortion filing desperately tries to convince the court that these two sections wander from the abortion subject by describing Section 2 as a “legislative policy statement concerning the legal status of fertilized eggs” and Section 9 as authorizing “the provision of supportive services to parents and prospective parents of children with disabilities.”

Aside from both sections’ logical connection to abortion, Section 2 uses ‘unborn child’ and Section 9 repeatedly uses ‘prenatal’, yet the court is supposed to accept the abortion attorneys’ claim of irrelevance to abortion?

Section 2 is the backbone for the Act, showing that—even under Roe v Wade—the state has the right to defend the unborn in tort law and to set spending priorities for promoting life. Attorneys for the state defending the Act, assert in their filing that Section 9 provides services to parents of disabled children “in order to promote childbirth and carrying an unborn child to term.”

In testimony supporting the Act, Kansans for Life explained Section 9 as answering the need for the health department to assist families confronting disability diagnoses, in the face of ever-escalating prenatal diagnostic tests that encourage the elimination of individuals with challenging conditions. [As an aside, under Obamacare, prenatal testing, but not counseling, is authorized.]

The shock of certain prenatal diagnoses can too often drive a mother to agree to abortion, especially when ObGyn doctors are themselves not well informed about the medical condition and available services.  Providing more immediate access to information about specialized treatments and community support allows a more fully informed decision to be made by families coping with unexpected news. This is obviously an abortion-related provision, although the counseling services extend past delivery.

It is exceedingly frustrating that the abortion industry can waste court time on such shoddy legal claims and we are glad that both the federal and district courts (in two separate suits, see here and here) have not blocked the entire Pro-Life Protections Act.

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Federal Judge Kathyrn Vratil

Federal Judge
Kathryn Vratil

Six weeks ago, Kansans for Life characterized the Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the newly-passed Pro-Life Protections Act as “a desperate move to appease its base in the wake of increased pro-life laws that reflect the will of the people but jeopardize the bottom line of abortion businesses.”

Developments in the court of Federal Judge Kathryn Vratil show that KFL was right–the filing was not justified, just grandstanding and Planned Parenthood is now withdrawing two-thirds of its lawsuit’s complaints!

In a 20-minute phone conference Monday afternoon with Judge Vratil, attorneys for Comprehensive Health/Planned Parenthood of Overland Park confirmed that they are amending their original filing to:

  1. withdraw opposition to the statement “abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being”;
  2. withdraw opposition to the information about the pain-capability of the unborn child; but
  3. retain opposition to a requirement that each clinic’s online home page feature a hyperlink to the state’s informed consent website.

Planned Parenthood’s “backpedaling” amendments will be filed formally on Wednesday and the state of Kansas defense attorneys plan to accept them. A hearing before Judge Vratil on the hyperlink issue will happen later this fall.

In the meantime, the entire Pro-Life Protections Act has gone into effect except the hyperlink mandate and one medical emergency definition, both of which were temporarily enjoined by Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty. Judge Vratil has acknowledged that Judge Crotty’s injunction is in effect– the result of a separate lawsuit filed in state court by the Overland Park Center for Women’s Health (owned by abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser).

During the two years of hearings for the Pro-Life Protections Act, abortion supporters maligned it as ‘sweeping’, ‘extremist’, ‘a mandate that abortionists lie to women’, and ‘support for obstetricians to trick women into birthing disabled children’.  They wailed about provisions of the Act that removed tax-funding for abortion training, ended tax benefits for abortionists and restricted abortionists from teaching classroom sex-ed. They huffed and puffed about language the U.S. Supreme Court approved in 1989 that human life begins at fertilization.

Yet now we see that their ONLY legal complaint (other than a hyper-technical misinterpretation of one of the medical emergency definitions) is that they must acknowledge the scientific accuracy of the state health department’s informed consent website –a website to which abortion clinics have voluntarily linked for years!

Abortion businesses are a commercial enterprise subject to government regulation.  It is an extremely weak argument they put forth (in both federal and state court) that their “free speech” rights are being violated when required to label the state information in the hyperlink as medically accurate.

We expect Kansas to win both the federal and state lawsuits, but it’s a shame that tax payers have to pay to defend good, protective legislation from abortion business nuisance suits.

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Judge Franklin Theis

Judge Franklin Theis

Today, Shawnee County Judge Franklin Theis heard arguments for and against retaining the July 2012 revocation of the medical license of former abortionist Ann Kristen (Kris) Neuhaus. The judge said his ruling will not be ready for some time.

The complaint from the state Board of Healing Arts is that Neuhaus failed to follow the standard of care in recommending that eleven teens in 2003 were eligible to abort viable babies because continuing the pregnancy caused them to suffer substantial and irreversible mental harm.

At one point, Theis raised a somewhat rhetorical question to Board attorney Kelli Stevens of why the state was not prosecuting for fraud, instead of failed standards.

Stevens urged that while the context of the case was abortion, the issue was not whether these 11 teens were valid candidates for abortion, but whether Neuhaus, as a licensed medical physician, had failed her “duty to make a proper record”. All Kansas physicians must obey this duty in statute:

“keep written medical records which accurately describe the services rendered to the patient, including patient histories, pertinent findings, examination results and test results.”

The pathetic condition of Neuhaus’ files in these eleven cases were shown when, under direct testimony in earlier proceedings, Neuhaus herself couldn’t recollect some of these teens, using all her notes and records. Her attorney today, Kori Trussell, even admitted her records “were not as they should be” but then insisted that it doesn’t mean she did not properly evaluate the mental health of the teens.

Stevens pushed that it is not whether these teens were even medically eligible candidates under the abortion law, but that Neuhaus’ diagnoses are “unsupported.” Her files are inconsistent and some cannot even be reconciled with those of Tiller as to dates and patient profiles, said Stevens.

Kansas legislators in 1998 banned abortions on viable unborn children unless the women faced substantial and irreversible bodily damage (including mental health) as documented by a second independent physician. Legislators had thought that the second physician would bring accountability so that lone abortionists would not be inventing exceptions to the ban.

However, Neuhaus was neither independent nor a psychological expert. Not only was she the exclusive second physician signing off on late-term abortions for now-deceased Wichita-abortionist George Tiller, that was her primary– if not only– salaried job between 2003-2006.

The Board’s revocation had been finalized by Administrative law judge Ed Gaschler and Judge Theis has asked for a directed index of the 3,000 page transcript. The appeal is going forward even though Neuhaus claims she is penniless and cannot afford to pay legal costs.

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Senate VP Jeff King

Sen. Jeff King

28 of 40 Kansas Senators voted Wednesday to approve two measures allowing reform of the judicial nomination system. It would affect all the state’s highest justices and judges–those on the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The current system, “does not have the legitimacy for the voters of the state of Kansas that it needs,” according to the bill sponsor, new Senate Vice-president, Jeff King (R-Independence).

The first Senate bill, SCR 1601, allows the public to vote to change the Kansas Constitution method of selecting the state Supreme Court and needs 2/3 approval of both chambers to be put on the 2014 ballot. SCR 1601 would put the selection of the appellate court into the state Constitution.

SCR 1601 mirrors the House measure, HCR 5002, applying to selection for both courts, and which passed favorably out of the House Judiciary committee last week, following extensive testimony over three days.

The Senate also passed a second, companion bill SB 8, creating a seven-member commission that would review the caliber of the Governor’s nominee for use in Senate confirmation.

Kansans for Life is scoring these measures as pro-life; we have long supported judicial selection reform measures that improve transparency and public involvement.  In 2006, we scored as pro-life a vote supporting a more modest reform measure allowing Senate confirmation of state Supreme Court nominees. During Senate confirmation, the public can learn of the leanings and past rulings of the nominees, similar to the vetting that happens at the federal level for nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. majority leader Terry Bruce

Sen. Terry Bruce

The current method of filling each vacancy for the state’s Supreme and appellate courts is considered secretive and non-democratic. In private deliberations, the judicial nominating committee, composed of five lawyers and four non-lawyers, selects three names from which the governor must choose one. The reform would give the governor free reign for picking a nominee, which the Senate –in open session– would have to vote whether to confirm or not. In the latter case, the process starts anew.

The reform also eliminates the current nominating committee. New Senate Majority Leader, Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson), described that committee as “distorted by special interest lawyers”.  Both Senators King and Bruce, who urged the reform measures, are themselves attorneys by profession; but many attorneys, including the Kansas Bar association, have long fought to keep the nominating committee.

More discussion of the Kansas courts’ pro-abortion bias and testimony about the nominating committee political bias will appear in a follow-up post.

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