As jury selection in the trial of Scott Roeder for the murder of Dr. George Tiller ground to a temporary halt after a Kansas judge decided that a jury might consider a charge of "voluntary manslaughter," the doctor’s widow went to court to try to quash a defense motion that would put the names of Tiller’s patients in the hands of his killer.
Late last week, Roeder’s defense served Jeanne Tiller with a subpoena
demanding she produce "professional calendars, appointment books,
records of scheduled procedures, or similar document," for all
procedures scheduled at Tiller’s Wichita clinic between May 1st and
June 31, 2009.
In Kansas, "voluntary manslaughter" is defined as an "unreasonable but
honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force"
during an intentional killing.
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Clearly, in demanding these documents, Roeder’s defense wants to show that his client believed he
was saving the lives of perhaps dozens of unborn children when he
gunned the 67-year old doctor down in the foyer of the Reformation
Lutheran Church in Wichita.
In their motion, Mrs. Tiller’s lawyers argue that those records are held not by Mrs.
Tiller personally, but in a medical trust administered by the law firm,
as required by Kansas state law, so that former patients might access
them should they be needed in the future.
records would not only violate precedent, it would be a "failure to
provide adequate protections to the privacy of Dr. Tiller’s patients,
who sought or obtained constitutionally protected medical services.
Disclosure of patient names alone, let alone other identifying
information to the public, and most certainly to an avowed
anti-abortion terrorist, would constitute the most egregious violation
of their rights of privacy imaginable"
"There is no law or logic which places any rights of the defendant above those rights of privacy."
Foreshadowing arguments prosecutors are likely to make before Judge Warren Wilbert regarding a defense of "voluntary manslaughter," Mrs. Tiller’s
attorneys say in their filing that the records are "wholly irrelevant
to any material issue in the pending case." Roeder can’t argue
justification, "insamuch as the imperfect use of force codified" in
state law "requires that any act be in defense of a ‘person,’" and a
fetus is not defined as a person under that same state law.
Mark Rudy, Scott Roeder’s public defender, has been trying to gain access to
this information months, and has told a blogger for the Wichita Eagle
that “what we’re going to do now is turn our efforts to getting the
records from the medical trust."
Cross-posted from Open.Salon.com