Tweets Have Kline Calling For Outside Investigation

By: Melissa Brunner / AP
By: Melissa Brunner / AP

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/AP) - Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and his attorney want an independent, outside investigation in light of a judicial worker's disparaging tweets Thursday during Kline's State Supreme Court ethics hearing.

Attorney Tom Condit told 13 News Friday that the tweets are indicative of what they see as a larger bias against Kline. He sent a letter to the Court's clerk Friday requesting the review.

Sarah Peterson Herr is suspended while the court conducts an internal investigation into the tweets. Her comments predicted Kline would be disbarred and criticized his actions in the courtroom.

She issued a statement to the Associate Press Friday apologizing for how the tweets reflected on the court system.

"I didn’t stop to think that in addition to communicating with a few of my friends on Twitter I was also communicating with the public at large, which was not appropriate for someone who works for the court system,” Herr said. “I apologize that because the comments were made on Twitter — and thus public — that they were perceived as a reflection on the Kansas courts.”

The Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether Kline should be disbarred for alleged actions during an investigation of abortion providers.

Peterson Herr is a research attorney for Appeals Court Judge Christel Marquardt, who is not hearing the Kline case. But Condit says law clerks and research attorneys regularly interact. He says law clerks and research attorneys are heavily involved in the drafting and researching of opinions.

"If you've got law clerks in the system showing that kind of bias against Phill Kline, that's a grave matter for Phill Kline and for anyone else," Condit said.

Court spokesperson Ron Keefover said he did not know of any impact the tweets had on judges and justices who are hearing the Kline case.

Condit took issue with that statement, saying he felt it was inappropriate for Keefover to speculate on any possible impact before the internal investigation was complete.

As for the outside investigation he's requesting, Condit said he would like emails, tweets and other documentable communications among law clerks and research attorneys pertaining to Kline, including a 2008 opinion issued by the courts, to be included in the review.

Condit says it may turn out that no other clerks or attorneys were making comments, but he wants to be sure.

"He (Kline) took a lot of public bashing," Condit said. "I think it's time to see what the law clerks and research attorneys were saying back then."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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