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Newspapers go to court in effort to see Scaife's will

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Monday, July 7, 2014, 11:06 p.m.
 

Two Pennsylvania newspapers went to court on Monday to seek a judge's permission to view the will of the late Tribune-Review owner and philanthropist Richard M. Scaife, who died during the holiday weekend.

But attorney H. Yale Gutnick, who represents the estate, said the petition filed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer was premature. The estate will be made public in a court filing.

“They could have made a more tasteful and diplomatic and respectful inquiry so soon after Mr. Scaife's death,” Gutnick said. “Maybe if they spent a little more time on investigative reporting they wouldn't have time for this nonsense.”

Scaife, an heir to the Scaife industrial and Mellon banking fortunes, died July 4 in his Shadyside home. He announced in May that he had terminal cancer.

Citing his obituary in The New York Times, the newspapers said Scaife's national prominence and deep involvement in conservative political causes made his death a matter of national news. They claim that how his assets will be disbursed are “matters of public importance,” and requested a hearing on Friday in Westmoreland County.

They said they anticipated Scaife's estate would request that the record be sealed, barring the press and public access to the proceedings.

“The press and the public must be afforded an opportunity to be heard on the issue of whether the record in this estate should be sealed,” their petition says.

Neither Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman nor Inquirer Executive Editor Mike Topel returned calls.

“The petitions speak for themselves and we will have no further comment pending the court's ruling on them,” Frederick Frank, a Downtown attorney and longtime Democratic Party official who represents both newspapers, said in an email response to a phone call.

Scaife contributed millions of dollars over the years to conservative causes, the arts, historic preservation, universities and community programs.

Gutnick said Scaife's estate will be filed in Westmoreland County as soon as he receives all the appropriate paperwork, including the death certificate.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-9027 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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