In a surprising move (shocking really), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered a one page Order today temporarily suspending Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s law license. Although the Order temporarily suspended Kane’s license to practice law, it specifically stated that it “should not be construed as removing [Kane] from elected office.” The full Order can be found online here: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/2202DD3%20-%201023669815398023.pdf?cb=1
Kane was indicated earlier this summer and is currently facing criminal charges in Montgomery County for allegedly leaking secrete grand jury material. The Montgomery County District Attorney has alleged that Kane illegally leaked grand jury material in order to embarrass a fellow prosecutor she viewed as a political opponent. Kane has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Today’s surprising Order was entered in response to an action initiated by the Pennsylvania Attorney Disciplinary Board to suspend Kane’s law license. In August, the Disciplinary Board filed a Complaint seeking to suspend Kane’s law license because of her “egregious conduct” in leaking the grand jury information. The Disciplinary Board also claimed that because Kane is currently a criminal defendant, there “is a concurrent conflict of interest for Kane to continue practicing law while being prosecuted for violating the very law she is was vested with the power to enforce.”
Kane has maintained that the Disciplinary Board’s efforts to suspend her law license violates her constitutional right to due process. In other words, Kane believes a jury of her peers must convict her of leaking grand jury material before her license can be suspended.
Today’s Supreme Court Order temporarily suspending Kane’s license is extremely surprising. Even more so considering the Supreme Court went out of its way to make it clear that the Order was not meant to remove her from office. The upshot here is bizarre – Pennsylvania’s current Attorney General, its “lawyer in chief,” cannot practice law. The ramifications of this Order on Kane’s ability to fully run the Attorney General’s Office are unclear, but it is safe to assume that this will not be the last word from the Supreme Court.
Updates to follow.