(CN) – The outgoing attorney general of Kansas improperly stored records from two abortion clinics during the transition to his new job as a county district attorney, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled.
Phill Kline lost his bid for re-election while he was conducting a criminal investigation of two abortion clinics. He was appointed as Johnson County District Attorney, replacing the man who beat him in the election.
“Although the records have been redacted,” Justice Beyer wrote, “they still contain information recognizable by certain persons and amenable to comparisons … that enable the identification of patients by name.”
Beyer noted that Kline used a “long, high lob” of transferring the records through automobiles, a lawyer’s house and another investigator’s dining room to ensure that Kline arrived in his new office before the records did.
“The extended time that the records spend in (an) unsecured dining room was nothing short of grossly incompetent,” Beyer wrote.
Beyer declined to force Kline to disgorge every copy he made of the patient records to the clinics and current Attorney General Steven Six, but the court ruled that Kline must deliver one complete set of records.
Beyer also declined to find Kline in contempt, but chided him for his lack of respect for patient privacy, citing Kline’s discussion of the case on the “O’Reilly Factor” cable news show. Kline said he had appeared on the show to alleviate fears that his office was seeking patients’ identities.