Ex-Kansas AG Kline defends his actions against Planned Parenthood

TOPEKA — Former Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline and a top deputy said today that they didn’t mislead a grand injury investigation of Planned Parenthood.

Taking the stand at a hearing held by the disciplinary board for attorneys, Kline and Steve Maxwell defended their dealings with the grand jury, which was created by a citizen petition in late 2007.

At issue is whether they provided the relevant law as they guided the grand jury through its investigation from December 2007 through March 2008. The grand jury didn’t return an indictment,

Testifying for about an hour, Kline said his role as a prosecutor wasn’t to shape or fashion the law as he saw fit.

“My duty under the law is to approach the evidence and follow where the evidence leads,” said Kline, who pursued abortion investigations as Kansas attorney general and district attorney.

“We weren’t trying to pull any punches. We’re trying to be straight up and honest with what we had.”

Maxwell, senior deputy district attorney under Kline, also defended his interaction with the grand jury.

“I didn’t do anything to mislead anybody,” he said.

The citizens petition creating the grand jury alleged that Planned Parenthood performed illegal abortions and provided false information to government officials.

Petition organizers also alleged that the Overland Park clinic failed to report suspected child abuse, failed to comply with parental consent requirements and failed to enforce the required 24-hour waiting period.

The grand jury’s presiding juror has accused Kline of not providing the relevant law relating to the required reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.

Kline is accused of not revealing that a federal judge had blocked the state from enforcing the mandatory reporting law as Kline interpreted it in 2003.

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