Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is appealing a ruling last year by the state’s Board for Discipline of Attorneys that his Kansas law license be revoked for “misleading” actions undertaken when he worked to prosecute illegal late-term abortions.
This week, he is once again seeking recusal of a judge on the state Supreme Court panel scheduled to review his license appeal. A few months ago, Kline’s legal team was phenomenally successful; they submitted documentation arguing that at least two of the seven state Supreme Court justices were hopelessly biased against him and the result was historic– five sitting justices recused themselves!
To fill those five positions, three district judges, and two appellate judges were selected. It is Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger that is now being asked to recuse herself in Kline’s filing, because she
“has already announced her views on these matters in a way to impugn Mr. Kline before the state judiciary.”
As reported Monday in the Topeka Capital Journal, Kline’s attorney, Tom Condit, said the motion urging Arnold-Burger’s recusal “was filed Friday after Kline discovered the judge’s role in ‘publishing a factually inaccurate, if not dishonest, newsletter to judges throughout Kansas that further distorted and demeaned the professional conduct of Mr. Kline.’ ”
The newsletter in question is The Verdict, a publication for Kansas lower court judges, edited solely by Arnold-Burger, and which folded after she was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2010. But in early 2009, The Verdict featured a negative article on Kline, including (according to Kline’s motion)“twelve statements [that] read like a pro-abortion editorial, and are famously inaccurate.”
Kline argues that two judicial ethics rules are in play: 1) a judge must not make public comments on impending cases, and 2) a judge is disqualified from any proceeding in which the judge’s
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
The action to pull Kline’s license was a ‘payback’ virtually promised by Justice Carol Beier, the author of both state Supreme Court rulings for Planned Parenthood protracted lawsuits in which Kline prevailed. Justice Beier’s animus against Kline was so out of bounds in the majority opinion that the two most senior justices backed away from Beier’s “threatened penalties” to Kline and complained that the ruling had been used “as a platform from which it can denigrate Kline for actions that it cannot find to have been in violation of any law.”
Prosecution for some of those Planned Parenthood illegal late-term abortions in 2003 are still headed for trial. Unfortunately, it was only last fall that the current prosecutor of the suit discovered that crucial state evidence to secure convictions had been shredded by the Sebelius’ administration in 2005 and by her hand-picked attorney general in 2009.
Kline had to press the state supreme court justices to step aside from judging his appeal; now he is exposing the bias of one appellate replacement.
This is “another disturbing revelation about the lack of neutrality in the Kansas disciplinary and judicial systems,” said Condit. “I cannot say that those controlling the Kansas disciplinary process are deliberately stacking the deck against Mr. Kline. I just cannot imagine how things would be any different if they were,” Condit said.