by Steven Ertelt
March 23, 2007
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates in Kansas have filed ethics complaints against a judge who dismissed 30 charges the state attorney general filed against late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller. The complaint says District Judge Paul W. Clark violated judicial conduct rules by not disclosing that Tiller contributed to his campaign.
Former Attorney General Phill Kline filed the misdemeanor charges against Tiller saying that he did illegal late-term abortions on women for reasons of "depression" rather than for legitimate medical concerns that state law requires.
At the urging of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, Judge Clark dismissed the charges.
However, he received campaign contributions from a law firm in 2004 that represents both Tiller and Foulston.
Pro-life groups point to state ethics rules required a judge to recuse himself when involved in a case “in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican, filed the complaint with the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, which reviews such issues. The complaint details events and irregularities that "raise substantial suggestions of partiality" in the case.
The complaint states that Clark acted improperly when he did not disqualify himself from the Tiller case and asks for the commission to "take appropriate disciplinary action, and thereby preserve and protect the public trust in the judicial system of the State of Kansas."
Huelskamp said the speed with which Clark dismissed the case raised eyebrows and that the judge didn’t disclose his campaign ties to the attorneys in the case.
The commission can criticize judges but any final actions would need the state Supreme Court’s approval.
Pro-life groups in the state, including Operation Rescue, joined in the complaint as well.
"Judges must be held to a high standard of ethics, and we believe that Clark violated those ethics by making a ruling that showed obvious partiality," OR President Troy Newman told LifeNews.com in a statement.
"The appearance of corruption has shaken the public confidence in the justice system. Americans from around the nation have come to question whether Kansas is currently capable of enforcing its own laws," Newman added. "Clark should be held accountable for his unethical actions in order for that confidence to be restored."
Dan Monnat, the attorney who represents Tiller and whose firm donated to Clark, said the complaint was nothing more than a “last-gasp maneuver" by pro-life advocates who are upset that the charges have been dropped.
"I think it’s preposterous in Kansas that a judge should need to disqualify himself because lawyers have contributed to his campaign,” Monnat told AP. “It happens every day.”
Clark’s campaign received $500 from Monnat’s firm on July 1, 2004 and he also received a $500 contribution from Foulston and her husband on Sept. 28.