Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline Files Yet Another Recusal Motion: Kansas Supreme Court Judge Biased
Life Legal Defense Foundation continues to support Phill Kline, whose attorneys just filed a motion requesting the Court order Judge Karen Arnold-Burger to recuse herself from a case against the former Kansas Attorney General. Kline is charged with alleged misconduct in his investigation of abortion provider criminal behavior in the mid-2000s. Five of the seven justices in the Kansas Supreme Court have already recused themselves, opting not to hear the case against Kline.
The move to recuse Judge Arnold-Burger comes from presumptively biased statements that she published about Kline’s case when she edited the now-defunct publication, The Verdict. The motion filed points to several instances of the judge-editor’s bias against Kline, including the publication of “numerous false statements regarding Phill Kline’s investigation of Kansas abortion clinics.”
“The Verdict expressed strong negative views about Phill Kline’s conduct of abortion clinic investigations, an opinion that an objective observer would attribute to its editor,” reads the motion. “That editor, now appointed to sit in judgment upon Mr. Kline’s handling of those investigations, is also obligated to recuse.”
“How can they appoint somebody who’s publicly decided the issue, and yet she has not taken the initiative to recuse herself? It’s outrageous,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.
The five justices voluntarily stepped aside in May 2012, citing a Kansas Code of Judicial Conduct rule that requires recusal when a judge previously presided as a judge over the same matter in another court. In a public statement issued about the recusals, the Supreme Court said the justices ordinarily review disciplinary cases against lawyers about which they have no direct knowledge. In Kline’s case, much of the case being reviewed occurred in the justices’ presence or in other proceedings filed directly with the court.
According to former Kansas Chief Justice Kay McFarland, five recusals in one case are probably unprecedented. That, however, according to Cody, does not mitigate the presence of Arnold-Berger in this case, which many have labeled politically motivated.