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Pa. Attorney General and Her Attorney Push Back Against Grand Jury Leak Probers

By Ian Bush

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) -- It's not always that a lawyer for the target of what was supposed to be a confidential investigation sides with reporters who revealed the story.  But that's the result of a strong law in Pennsylvania protecting the media and the public's right to know.

After the Philadelphia Inquirer last week published that a grand jury recommended criminal charges against Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane, a special prosecutor subpoenaed two of its reporters.

"I don't quite understand it, because the law is very clear," notes Villanova University law school professor Anne Poulin, referring to Pennsylvania's Shield Law.  It gives journalists an "absolute privilege," she says, "against having to disclose their confidential sources."

And, she adds, among the many states with such statutes, "It's a very strong law, and it's been interpreted strongly by the courts."

That has led Kane's attorney to say the Inquirer reporters are the "wrong targets": lawyer Lanny Davis wants the governor to name another special prosecutor, to focus instead on what Davis calls the "sources of this illegal and prejudicial leak against the attorney general."

Kane today reaffirmed her innocence, saying an independent review would find that she's done nothing wrong.

Outside a Pennsylvania Farm Show event in Harrisburg, Kane, a Democrat, said she's disappointed by the process used to investigate her office.

The Inquirer reported last week that a grand jury recommended Kane face charges including perjury and contempt of court for leaking secret material to the Philadelphia Daily News about a separate investigation six years ago. No charges have been filed.

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