Inquirer reporters subpoenaed over AG Kane grand jury leak
PHILADELPHIA — A lawyer for Attorney General Kathleen Kane isn't satisfied that a special prosecutor has subpoenaed two Philadelphia Inquirer reporters to ask about leaked grand jury information, saying their testimony wouldn't go far enough to investigate leaks.
Special prosecutor Thomas Carluccio subpoenaed reporters Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis on Monday for reporting last week that a statewide grand jury recommended criminal charges against Kane. Carluccio ordered them to appear before the grand jury in Norristown.
The Inquirer said the two would invoke the state's Shield Law that protects journalists from being compelled to identify confidential sources.
“The confidential sources who provided guidance to The Inquirer in these stories about public officials in their official duties are precisely those whom the Pennsylvania Shield Law was designed to protect from disclosure,” editor William K. Marimow said.
Citing people familiar with the investigation, The Inquirer reported that the grand jury will recommend Kane be charged with leaking secret material from a 2009 grand jury investigation to the Philadelphia Daily News. Kane has denied knowingly disclosing any secret grand jury material.
A person in Carluccio's office said he could not confirm or deny the existence of the investigation.
Kane's lawyer, Lanny Davis, on Saturday asked whether Carluccio would investigate the leak of the grand jury's recommendation.
“There can be no doubt that the information leaked to The Philadelphia Inquirer was grand-jury protected information,” Davis said. “Now, my question to the special prosecutor today — will he answer it? Mr. Special Prosecutor, have you begun an investigation of that leak? And if not, why not?”
But Tuesday afternoon, Davis again criticized Carluccio, calling the subpoenas “a disguised effort to appear to be balanced,” and demanding a special prosecutor.
In a statement, Davis said about Carluccio: “Does he issue subpoenas of the individual or individuals who are the most likely sources for these leaks? No. Does he initiate investigations of all the prior leaks coming out of his own grand jury investigation prejudicial to Attorney General Kane going back many months? No. Instead, he decides, after I challenged him publicly, to subpoena only the reporters doing their jobs under the First Amendment.”
Pennsylvania's Shield Law is “a very strong protection,” said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association. Court rulings have upheld the law, which applies to criminal and civil cases.
Though there is no federal shield law, Melewsky said she believed it would apply to federal and state courts.
The special prosecutor in Norristown, authorized by retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, is in state court. He was appointed by Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter.
The Associated Press and Trib Total Media state Capitol reporter Brad Bumsted contributed to this report.