Former Kansas AG Phill Kline Appeals Dismissal Of Suit Over Suspension Of His Law License

Dec 12, 2016

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline claims the Kansas Supreme Court acted unlawfully when it suspended his law license three years ago.
Credit State of Kansas official portrait

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is appealing a federal court’s dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the suspension of his law license by the Kansas Supreme Court three years ago.

Kline filed an electronic notice of appeal late Saturday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

His attorney, Cincinnati lawyer Tom Condit, said in an email that if the federal court was right, “then state supreme court justices are the one class of people in America who can violate the civil rights of anyone they wish, with no accountability, and with their victims having no right to federal court review.”

Last month, U.S. District Judge Greg Kays ruled that Kline’s lawsuit presented a political question, not a legal one, and that longstanding legal doctrine bars an attorney from challenging the results of a state disciplinary hearing in federal court.

The Kansas Supreme Court suspended Kline’s law license in 2013 after a state disciplinary panel concluded that he had committed attorney misconduct. The panel found that Kline had misled officials and a grand jury while serving as Kansas attorney general and later as Johnson County district attorney.

As attorney general, Kline filed misdemeanor charges against Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider who was later shot and killed while attending church. He also brought a 107-count indictment against Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to report pregnancies of underage girls. That case was later dismissed by Kline’s successor, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.

Kline, now a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia, sued the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court and the replacement judges who suspended his license.

Kline contended the court’s ruling was invalid because five of the seven sitting justices recused themselves and the court’s composition was therefore invalid.  

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.