Former Kansas Attorney General Phillip Kline lost his law license indefinitely on Friday after the Kansas Supreme Court found that he violated lawyer ethics rules in his prosecution of abortion providers.
In a unanimous decision, the court found that Kline, attorney general from 2003 to 2007, demonstrated “overzealous advocacy” and failed to operate “within the bounds of the law.”
Kline, now an assistant professor at Christian-oriented Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va., can seek readmission to the Kansas bar in three years
The court, in a 154-page decision, found that he gave false court testimony about information obtained during a criminal investigation of abortion providers.
The seven-justice panel also found that he ordered staffers to include court-sealed documents in a public brief and told employees to file court papers containing misleading information. The justices found that Kline “violated his duties to the public, the legal system, and the legal profession.”
Kansas disciplinary administrator Stanton Hazlett had sought Kline’s permanent disbarment, a punishment the justices rejected, finding that his conduct did not demonstrate intent to violate the rules. Hazlett did not return a call seeking comment.
Kline’s attorney, Thomas Condit, said that the disciplinary board had “cherry-picked” incidents from Kline’s past to paint a false picture of his conduct.
“You can be sure Mr. Kline has an honest explanation for everything he said or did. Even if some of it turned out to be inaccurate, but it doesn’t make it a lie,” Condit said. Kline likely will file a motion to reconsider, he said.
Kline did not respond to messages seeking comment. At Liberty University, he teaches courses on constitutional law, criminal law and torts.
As a prosecutor, Kline filed dozens of charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic, accusing it of performing illegal abortions and falsifying records. The last of those charges were dismissed last year. He also pursued criminal charges against a local doctor, whose charges were eventually thrown out.
Contact Leigh Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.