The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday indefinitely suspended the law license of the state's former attorney general, finding that he engaged in "ethical misconduct" in his aggressive pursuit of charges against abortion providers in the state.
In a unanimous decision, the court found that former Attorney General Phill Kline, 53, broke professional conduct rules and tended towards "overzealous advocacy" for his cause, Reuters reported. According to the ruling, the court was worried by Kline's "inability or refusal" to acknowledge his misconduct.
The Supreme Court found that Kline committed "significant and numerous" violations to advance his investigations, the Associated Press reported. His infractions included repeatedly misleading or allowing his employees to mislead others -- including a grand jury.
According to the Kansas City Star, Kline was found to have made "'false and misleading' statements to the Supreme Court about the handling of patient records obtained during the criminal investigations," among other infractions.
George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who was killed in 2009 for providing abortions, was one of Kline's subjects of investigation. Kline also led an investigation into a branch of Planned Parenthood located in the town of Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. In 2007, that investigation culminated in a 107-count indictment where Kline alleged that Planned Parenthood had falsified records and performed illegal abortions. The case was later dropped by current Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.
"Kline never deliberately lied under oath or deliberately misled a court," Kline's lawyer, Tom Condit, told The Huffington Post by phone Monday. "What the court is doing is, they are picking apart six years of his life. Anything they could find [in his investigations] that was an inconsistency or, you know, a contradiction, they construed to be a deliberate lie. They left no room for human error. What they have done is cherry-picked things completely out of context."
"At least four judges had looked at his evidence and let him proceed with the investigation because they found probable cause that crimes had been committed [by Tiller's clinic and Planned Parenthood]," Condit added, calling the whole process "corrupt from beginning to end."
Kline became the Kansas attorney general in 2003, and the investigation against him began soon after. He can reapply for his license in three years, the Kansas City Star reported.
In August, Kansas doctor Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who was forced into poverty after the state stripped her of her medical license, alleged that Kline tricked her into handing over private patient medical records. An online campaign to pay her legal fees has raised nearly $63,000.
In a Kansas City Star op-ed, columnist Yael Abouhalkah called the Friday decision a "deserved disgrace" for Kline. Planned Parenthood, one of Kline's targets, said it felt "vindicated" by the ruling.
“Planned Parenthood said throughout this long ordeal Mr. Kline was pursuing a political witch hunt based on his ideological and political views, not the law," said Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri CEO Peter Brownlie in a statement. "Today’s unanimous decision confirms we were right."
This article has been updated with the comment from Kline's attorney, Tom Condit.