In response to questions by members of the Special Committee on Senate Address Wednesday, First Deputy Attorney General Bruce Beemer said his office is being looked to as the “ultimate legal authority” within the Office of Attorney General for all legal decisions using a protocol based on the October 22 memo the four deputy Attorney Generals sent to indicted Attorney General Kane.
The deputies said the memo was prompted by a press spokesman’s statement for Kane saying 98 percent of the Attorney General’s duties would not be affected by the license suspension. That was simply not correct, the deputies said.
According to a press statement by Kane, the deputies said, Kane agrees with the October 22 memo.
In addition to Beemer, the other three deputies testifying were: James Donahue Esq., Executive Deputy Attorney General, Robert Mulle Esq., Executive Deputy Attorney General and Lawrence Cherba Esq., Executive Deputy Attorney General.
Beemer said, to the best of his knowledge, Kane has not practiced law with respect to individual cases in the Office of Attorney General. Deputies said they have not been sharing legal documents with Kane that are not considered on the public record.
Beemer added later in the hearing the head of the office is clearly “legally disabled” from performing the responsibilities of the office.
Beemer said the number of issues raised by Kane’s suspended law license will only increase as time goes on, in particular as defense attorneys, before hundreds of local judges across the state, raise issues involving the authority of the Attorney General.
When asked if any of the deputies could perform their functions in office without a law license, they said no.
Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia County), Chair of the Committee, went through each of the major responsibilities of the Attorney General with each of the deputies and in virtually every case, the deputies said the Attorney General could not make decisions or undertake those functions with a suspended law license.
Deputy Lawrence Cherba did say he felt Kane had the authority to delegate or take back delegation of authority within the office and to assign cases to individual attorneys.
Among the issues raised during the hearing, Robert Mulle said the issue of the approval of Commonwealth General Obligation Bonds, which requires the Attorney General’s signature, was an area that presents significant challenges and has not been resolved.
Beemer said none of the deputies were aware of Kane’s response to the Committee’s subpoena last Friday. The deputies, at various points in the hearing, said they have some, but not have much, contact with Kane. In response to a question from Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) about whether Kane comes to work, the deputies said they were not aware of where she was working on any given day.
Sen. Gordner said the deputies appeared before the Committee with the understanding they would not be asked if Kane is fit to serve with a suspended law license.
A video of the hearing is available on the Committee webpage.
At the end of the hearing, Sen. Gordner said there are no plans for further hearings, but the Committee will be meeting to develop the final report by the Committee’s deadline of November 25.For more information, visit the Special Committee on Senate Address webpage.
Senior Lawyers Outline Effect Of Kane’s Law License Suspension