Kansas: Blame Disgruntled Jury, Not Phill Kline, for Ignoring Law

State   |   Kathy Ostrowski   |   Jul 21, 2011   |   12:58PM   |   Topeka, KS

Wednesday was the second day of the second set of Kansas judicial administrative ethics hearings for Phill Kline. (Read a thorough recounting of yesterday’s testimony at KansasWatchdog.)

The charges this week arise from the disgruntled jury foreman in a citizen-petitioned Johnson County grand jury impaneled from Dec 2007-March 2008.  The presiding judge did not enforce subpoenas of abortion records and so the jury went home without indictments.

Basically, the foreman– without input from other jurors– had negotiated a secret sweetheart deal for Planned Parenthood that blew up in her face, despite the help of presiding Judge Kevin Moriarity and the two legal advisors (Larry McClain and Rick Merker) he assigned to the jury as a counterpoint to the Distract Attorney’ s office.

Steve Maxwell, (Johnson County senior prosecutor at the time) commented that

the deal “stunned and horrified” him and his boss, Kline, and would have prevented any further criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood.

The foreman’s key accusation is that Kline’s office misled the jury about the operative law governing the reporting of child sexual abuse.  However, testimony read from the record shows the jury was instructed properly on the law, but the foreman (herself an attorney) remained confused / obstinate / or badly counseled by the outside attorneys.

Wednesday morning, Rick Merker, one of the judge-picked attorneys, showed he was woefully ignorant of significant legal facts, although he was paid $250/hour!  Merker belligerently claimed in court “he was doing the DA’s job.”  Under questioning, however, he was forced to admit he did not know:

  • the level of proof needed to secure a subpoena,
  • the level of proof needed for an indictment,
  • the proper duties of the jury foreman,
  • the Kansas Supreme Court ‘Alpha’ redaction protocol,
  • the redactions proposed in the sweetheart deal.

Merker squirmed under questioning about why he hid notice of the Planned Parenthood deal from the DA and how it would have actually created civil and criminal liabilities for the individual jurors!

In Wednesday’s testimony, Maxwell admitted that the actual name of one court ruling was not mentioned until the second week of the jury’s meetings, and that he has been admonished about the error, with the stipulation that he did NOT mislead the jury. Maxwell’s testimony explained :

  1. The jury was not harmed by a delay in learning details about a singular 2005 ruling that temporarily halted Kline’s strict interpretation of sex abuse, in effect only until the statute was revised in January 2007.
  2. The jury was interested in cases readily accessible to them for examination from July 2003-Dec. 2003 and whether Planned Parenthood broke the abortion laws in effect.
  3. The jury was stymied, not by Kline,but by Planned Parenthood’s refusal to unredact 16 “overly-redacted” and readily-accessible records.

LifeNews.com Note: Kathy Ostrowski is the legislative director for Kansans for Life, a statewide pro-life group.