NEW YORK - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's chief justice took a swipe Saturday at embattled Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, saying some information made public by her office about a 2009 investigation was covered by state secrecy laws.
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille told reporters that some of the documents in question constituted grand jury material, which would be confidential.
Kane, the subject of a grand jury leak inquiry, has acknowledged releasing material but has argued that she did nothing illegal, that she would prevail in the inquiry and win reelection.
Questioned by reporters at the annual Pennsylvania Society gathering in New York, Castille countered that at least one of the documents that appeared in the Daily News story should have been confidential.
"It was a detective's statement," said Castille, speaking to two reporters at the Metropolitan Club.
Kane could not be reached for comment.
The chief justice's comments underscored the gravity of Kane's predicament, as the grand jury investigating the leak has the option to recommend charges if it believes secrecy rules were violated.
The Inquirer has reported that Castille earlier this year authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor to examine whether Kane or her office improperly leaked grand jury documents - a crime that can carry a prison term - to embarrass political enemies.
Last month, Kane was subpoenaed to testify in the leak inquiry and was questioned for more than two hours. She told reporters on her way in that while certain information related to the 2009 case was released, she did not violate any grand jury rules in doing so.
The 2009 investigation was headed by Frank G. Fina, a top prosecutor who worked under Kane's Republican predecessors and who now works for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Kane and Fina have been locked in an increasingly bruising feud over how certain cases had been handled.
In an interview Friday, Kane signaled she might challenge the authority and validity of the special prosecutor, Montgomery County attorney Thomas Carluccio. She said she "stands steadfast in that I did nothing wrong," but acknowledged the inquiry has caused emotional strain.
"The personal toll it has taken on my family is regrettable," said Kane, referring to her two sons. "But it's a life lesson they will have to learn sooner or later."