By Robert Swift
Pennsylvania's chief justice declined Monday to join calls by other elected state officials for embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane's resignation saying that is a purely personal decision for her. Ms. Kane remains a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court despite the court order a week ago temporarily suspending her law license effective Oct. 21, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor told the Pennsylvania Press Club. That means she can continue as attorney general under the state Constitution, but cannot act as an attorney to execute office documents or sign indictments, he said.
"You can't function as an attorney during the period of intermediate suspension," he said. Justice Saylor said the attorney general's office has some fairly competent people in top jobs, including first deputy Bruce Beemer, to handle the legal duties. Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo said there is an intensive review underway within the office to determine which of Ms. Kane's duties are legal or administrative in nature.
The court suspended Ms. Kane's license after criminal charges were filed against her for leaking secret grand jury information to a reporter. However, Justice Saylor said the court followed a due process with the suspension order. The court considered a petition from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court that focused more on issues of professional conduct than the criminal charges, he said.
Ms. Kane can appeal the suspension order, but there is no word yet whether she will. Ms. Kane has felt singled out from the very inception of the leak case which are not that uncommon and seldom if ever prosecuted, said Mr. Ardo.
Last week, Ms. Kane said she planned to respond to media Right-to-Know requests seeking release of pornographic emails found in the computer service of the attorney general's office. These include emails of law enforcement officials and judges, she said.
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has asked that any emails involving judges be sent to the state board that investigates judicial misconduct, said Justice Saylor. Some questionable emails have been referred to the Judicial Conduct Board, said Mr. Ardo.
(c)2015 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)