Eric Rucker, former chief of staff for the Kansas attorney general, will receive a public censure for his role in misleading the state's Supreme Court in the investigation of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.
The Kansas Board of Discipline for Attorneys recommended Rucker for an informal admonishment on Tuesday.
Rucker served as the chief prosecutor under Attorney General Phill Kline during an investigation into Tiller's clinic in Wichita and a Kansas City-area facility operated by Planned Parenthood.
"Obviously, we are very pleased with today's ruling. Justice was done today," Rucker's lawyer, Caleb Stegall, said in a statement after his client received the least harsh disciplinary measure allowed by the board.
"Yes, the decision found, and Mr. Rucker freely admitted and expressed his regret, that some mistakes were made," Stegall added. "He has now been informally admonished for those mistakes."
The report also criticized Stegall for minimizing the seriousness of Rucker's infractions.
"They are serious violations," the three-member panel said in its report. It added that Rucker "allowed the Kansas Supreme Court and the Disciplinary Administrator to operate under a mistaken belief regarding a significant matter in an ongoing criminal investigation."
A hearing on ethical complaints against Kline is set for November. Rucker and former Assistant Attorney General Steve Maxwell are listed as witnesses against their former boss.
The report said that although Rucker did not personally mislead the Kansas Supreme Court about the investigation, he did nothing as Kline and another attorney filed inaccurate information about the case to the high court.
Between 2003 to 2007, Kline's office began an investigation he claimed was to look into sexual abuse of teenagers and other children seeking abortions.
As a part of seeking abortion records from clinic patients, the report said, Kline's office told the Supreme Court:
* That it was not seeking the identities of women who had received abortions.
* That it was also seeking records about live births by underage girls from doctors and others mandated by law to report sexual abuse of children.
The report said, however, that Kline's office had sought records only from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which is not a mandatory reporter.
Kline's office also had sought to identify women seeking abortions in Tiller's clinic through a court order to receive a guest register to a nearby hotel.
Jared Reed, an investigator with Kline's office, succeeded in identifying 221 patients of Tiller's Women's Health Care Services Clinic.
Rucker said he didn't know about Reed's spreadsheet. The disciplinary board said it wouldn't have taken much effort for him to find out about it.
During his oral arguments to the Kansas Supreme Court, the report said, Rucker had made accurate statements to the justices about both of those issues.
But after Rucker's arguments, Kline and another assistant attorney general, Kris Ailslieger, filed a motion to clarify their position, which the Board of Attorney Discipline determined was misleading.
Rucker said he told Kline not to file the later motion with the Supreme Court.
But the disciplinary board said Rucker had a duty to notify the court of inaccurate statements made in that filing.
"He could have taken remedial actions," the board said.
Those could have included telling the high court about the inaccuracies or "resign his position as Deputy Attorney General since he believed Attorney General Kline and Assistant Ailslieger misled the Supreme Court," the report said.
Kline's office tried to use information obtained in the investigation to file criminal charges against Tiller. But Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston had a judge dismiss the charges.
Tiller was later tried on misdemeanor charges by the office of current Kansas Attorney General Steve Six. A jury in Sedgwick County District Court found Tiller not guilty of all charges in April 2009.
In May, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder shot Tiller to death in the foyer of Tiller's church. Roeder was convicted earlier this year of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
While testifying at his trial, Roeder cited Kline's failed investigation as one of the reasons he killed the doctor.