State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

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Kane's top deputies called before Senate panel

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 17, 2015 3:06 PM
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Perhaps what Attorney General Kathleen Kane needs is an asterisk - a footnote, or some other kind of small explanation of her current situation.

That's what one legal ethicist advised in testimony Tuesday to the state Senate committee considering Kane's removal in light of her law license suspension last month.

Beth Weisser, a Fox Rothschild partner who represents lawyers in disciplinary proceedings, said even continuing to use the title of attorney general is "problematic" for Kane, because lawyers are supposed to stop giving even the impression they can practice law when their license is suspended.

"Letterhead is frequently discussed in terms of counseling clients -- letterhead, business cards, LinkedIn profiles," said Weisser. She envisioned that the caveat would be "perhaps on the letterhead, an asterisk of sorts explaining the current status, or that the individual is subject to a temporary suspension."

The Senate committee plans to hear next from the attorney general's top deputies, at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday. In subpoenaed documents provided by Kane last week, top lawyers in her office advised her that she could expose her staff to disciplinary action if she practices law while her license is shelved.

Another legal expert who testified Tuesday said Kane is required to name a supervising attorney while her license is suspended. The Senate panel has received no evidence she has done that.

Kane's spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on the attorney general's designated supervising attorney.

"If she has a supervising attorney she has to follow the rule and, that is, submit the appropriate form as properly certified and signed," said Robert Davis Jr., a former deputy with the state Disciplinary Board for lawyers and an adjunct ethics professor at Widener University School of Law. "If you are saying she has not done that, that is a problem."

Published in State House Sound Bites

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