Supreme Court Staffer Biases Phill Kline Ethics Hearing
by Cheryl Sullenger | Topeka, KS | LifeNews.com | 11/16/12 4:01 PM
As the Kansas Supreme Court met this morning to hear oral arguments in the ethics case against former State Attorney general Phill Kline, an appellate court clerk was tweeting disparaging messages about Kline from the Court that indicated she may have inside information on how the seven-member panel would rule.
Tweeting under the screen name “sparklylillife”, Sarah Peterson Herr tweeted, “It’s over…sorry. I did like how the district court judges didn’t speak the entire time. Thanks for kicking out the SC Phil! Good call!”
Five Supreme Court Justices recused themselves from hearing Kline’s ethics case, which alleges ethical violations related to his investigations of unreported child sex abuse by abortion clinics and illegal late-term abortions. They were replaced by two members of the Court of Appeals and three District Court judges. Kline had filed a motion asking for their recusal.
“Ms. Herr’s tweet implies that she has some kind of inside knowledge that the District Court judges will rule against Kline and what the ruling of the Court will be – all before oral arguments are heard. We wonder how she knows that. It is looking more and more like the fix is in,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation.
Herr is a research attorney for Appeals Court Judge Christal E. Marquardt in an environment where all the clerks for different judges work together. That means that Herr most likely knows Appeals Court Judges Karen Arnold-Burger and Henry W. Green Jr., who temporarily stepped onto the Kansas Supreme Court to hear this case.
Herr also tweeted mocking comments about Kline throughout the hearing.
“Why is Phil Klein smiling? There is nothing to smile about, douchebag,” Herr posted during the hearing, followed by this: “I love that Phil is all talking about Dr. Tiller like they are cool, and not that his witch hunt helped lead to Dr. Tiller’s murder.”
Kline’s attorney Tom Condit showed concern for Herr’s postings.
“This is a troubling revelation that is degrading to the Kansas Appellate Courts. The unavoidable question is: how prevalent is this attitude elsewhere on the court staff? This will not enhance public confidence in the courts. An investigation is warranted. I will await further developments,” he said.
“One has to wonder about the depravity of the culture at the Court for Ms. Herr to publicly post such crude and defamatory posts, going so far as to recklessly and falsely accuse Kline of causing a murder,” said Newman. “Ms. Herr’s behavior while on the clock was completely unethical, unprofessional, and frankly an embarrassment to the Court. We believe in free speech, but as a court employee, she went too far.”
The Supreme Court took the case under advisement and gave no indication of when it would rule, in spite of Herr’s apparent knowledge of a prearranged term of discipline. The case has been fraught with abortion-related controversy through which Kline has maintained his innocence. [Background]
“We call on Judge Marquardt immediately terminate Sarah Peterson Herr in the interest of protecting the integrity of the court,” said Newman. “We also demand that an internal investigation look into bias and other unethical conduct at the court.”
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LifeNews.com Note: Cheryl Sullenger is a leader of Operation Rescue, a Kansas-based pro-life that monitors abortion practitioners and exposes their illegal and unethical practices.