Government & Politics

Phill Kline sues Kansas Supreme Court, seeking reinstatement of law license

Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general and Johnson County district attorney, had his license to practice law in the state indefinitely suspended in 2013. He has sued the state Supreme Court, seeking reinstatement. The court’s disciplinary action stemmed from Kline’s investigation into Kansas abortion providers after he was elected attorney general in 2002.
Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general and Johnson County district attorney, had his license to practice law in the state indefinitely suspended in 2013. He has sued the state Supreme Court, seeking reinstatement. The court’s disciplinary action stemmed from Kline’s investigation into Kansas abortion providers after he was elected attorney general in 2002. The Kansas City Star

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline filed a lawsuit Sunday against the state’s Supreme Court justices over the 2013 suspension of his law license.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the indefinite suspension of Kline’s license was arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Kline, who also served as Johnson County district attorney, is now an assistant law professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

The court’s disciplinary action stemmed from Kline’s investigation into Kansas abortion providers after he was elected attorney general in 2002.

After Kline lost his 2006 re-election bid to then-Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, Republican precinct committee members in Johnson County elected Kline to replace Morrison as district attorney.

After Kline became district attorney, he continued to look into abortion providers. A grand jury investigation into Planned Parenthood resulted in a 107-count indictment against the Overland Park facility. All of the charges were dismissed after Kline lost the 2008 Republican primary race to current District Attorney Steve Howe.

In Sunday’s lawsuit, attorneys for Kline contend that the ethical complaints that led to Kline’s suspension were instigated by his political and legal adversaries and were “arbitrary and lawless from beginning to end.”

The ethical complaints led to a hearing by a panel of three lawyers appointed by the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys. The panel recommended indefinite suspension, citing instances of what it considered misconduct.

The state’s disciplinary administrator later recommend disbarment.

That led to the Supreme Court’s review and its 2013 suspension order.

Five of the court’s seven justices recused themselves from the case. Two appeals court judges and three district judges were appointed to replace them.

Kline’s suit contends that the makeup of the court violated the Kansas Constitution and therefore its decision is legally void. It also violated Kline’s right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, according to the suit.

The suit seeks an immediate order vacating the suspension ruling.

“This Kline saga has been a complete miscarriage of justice and an embarrassment to the Kansas judicial system,” Thomas Condit, one of Kline’s lawyers, said in a written statement.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court said it was not aware of the suit until Monday morning.

“As we have not been served with a copy of the complaint and therefore have not had a chance to review the document, the court is unable to comment,” the spokesman said in a written statement.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri released a statement Monday in which it expressed “every confidence” that the federal court will uphold the suspension of Kline’s license.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

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