Trial of doctor in abortion cases underway in Kansas

WICHITA — Abortion provider George Tiller may be the one on trial in a Sedgwick County courtroom, but the deeds and misdeeds of Paul Morrison and Phill Kline, both former Kansas attorneys general, proved to be the subject of a lengthy — and at times, salacious — legal drama Tuesday.

The day's star witness? Linda Carter, the former staffer in the Johnson County district attorney’s office whose affair with Morrison led to his resignation as attorney general a year ago. Tuesday was the first time Carter had spoken publicly about the relationship.

She said Morrison and Kline were "arch-enemies" and that she and Morrison often argued about her employment in Kline’s office after he replaced Morrison as district attorney. They also fought about the Tiller investigation and late-term abortion, which Carter said she opposes.

Morrison, she said, "was increasingly becoming more verbally abusive, angry towards me. That was always because I continued my employment with Phill Kline."

Tiller is accused of having an improper financial relationship with a second physician who signed off on late-term abortions he performed. Tiller maintains his innocence, but his attorneys argue that the 19 misdemeanor charges should be dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct from the start of the investigation.

They accuse Kline, the Republican who began the investigation of Tiller, of letting his opposition to abortion influence his decision to pursue charges. And they say Kline mishandled medical files retrieved from Tiller's office.

Tiller's lawyers contend that Morrison, who changed parties to run as a Democrat against Kline in 2006, later filed the charges under pressure from Carter. She began working for Kline after the election, when he was appointed to fill out Morrison's term as Johnson County district attorney.

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