Court suspends Pennsylvania attorney general's law license

Legal Insight Posted on

Pennsylvania's highest court on Monday ordered the temporary suspension of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's law license, a step that could trigger efforts to remove her from office as she fights perjury, obstruction and other charges.

The unanimous order by the state Supreme Court's five justices also could prompt a legal challenge from the first-term Democrat.

The one-page decision by the justices — three Republicans and two Democrats — dealt with a petition by state ethics enforcement lawyers who accused Kane of admitting that she had authorized the release of information that allegedly should have been kept secret. That allegation is also central to the criminal case against her.

In the meantime, it creates the unprecedented situation of leaving the state's top law enforcement official in charge of a 750-employee office and a $93 million budget but without the ability to act as a lawyer.

The state constitution requires the attorney general to be a licensed lawyer. But the court said in the order that its action should not be construed as removing her from office, raising the thorny question of how her office will decide which duties she can or cannot do.

Kane and her lawyers did not say Monday whether she would appeal or challenge the order, which was issued through an emergency process usually reserved for lawyers who are brazenly stealing from clients or behaving erratically in court.

In statements issued through her office, Kane, 49, said she was disappointed in the court's action and would not resign. She maintained her innocence and vowed to continue to fight to clear her name.

Then, Kane called attention to a pornographic email scandal uncovered by her office that involved numerous current and former officials there and claimed the job last year of a state Supreme Court justice.




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