Judiciary Fires Research Attorney Over Kline Tweets

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline speaks to the media following oral arguments in his ethics case before the Kansas Supreme Court Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (WIBW)

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) The Kansas Appeals Court research attorney who tweeted during former attorney general Phill Kline's ethics hearing has been terminated.

Sarah Peterson Herr was suspended Friday when word of her tweets during Thursday's oral arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court came to light. She predicted Kline would be disbarred and made critical comments about Kline's actions in the court room, including calling him an unflattering name.

In addition to being fired, Chief Justice Lawton Nuss also referred the matter to the disciplinary administration office for review of possible ethics violations.

Herr issued an apology Friday, saying she didn't consider how her comments would reflect on the court.

Herr worked for Kansas Court of Appeals judge Christel Marquardt, who was not involved in hearing the Kline case. However, several Appeals Court judges were among those who replaced Supreme Court justices who recused themselves from the case.

Kline is facing the loss of his law license for alleged actions during an investigation of abortion providers when he was Kansas Attorney General and Johnson County District Attorney. His attorney, Tom Condit, called for an independent, outside investigation of the law clerks and research attorneys, including a review of all communications related to the Kline case.

"While I certainly do not want to unfairly tar the Supreme Court or any judge or justice in that courthouse, I think the bigger question is how could such an educated young lady feel so comfortable saying what she said on social media under those circumstances," Condit told 13 News. "We think her termination is not the final answer. We think a more complete invest into the attitude of the law clerks and attorneys still needs to be done to see if this anti-Kline attitude is more pervasive than just this one young lady."

Court spokesperson Ron Keefover said Monday the request was received. He says the court's investigation focused on the one specific incident and there were plans for the judiciary to pay for an outside investigation.