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Attorney Asks to Be Removed from Judge's Lawsuit Against Centre County

by on April 07, 2015 3:40 PM

The various parties involved in the mess of interlocking lawsuits against the Centre County government continue to trade blows in new court filings.

In the latest round of this ongoing legal brawl, a Harrisburg attorney is firing back at Centre County Common Pleas Judge Jonathan Grine – claiming that he and his law firm shouldn’t even be party to the lawsuit in the first place.

Appeals attorney Theodore Tanski of the McShane Law Firm says he didn’t break the law by requesting phone records for county judges and prosecutors, and asks the court to remove him and the firm from Grine’s lawsuit in new court documents filed Tuesday.

Tanski raises similar concerns to those voiced by the McShane firm at a hearing in the lawsuit held last Thursday. Tanski says he obtained the phone records lawfully, that the records involve matters of the public interest, and that Grine’s attempts to have the records returned or destroyed violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

“Tanski’s request was limited solely to communications between specific public employees – specific telephone lines funded by the public,” the court filing reads. “…The records constitute a matter of public concern, dissemination and publication of which is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Grine filed his lawsuit against Centre County last month, and named Tanski and the McShane firm as co-defendants. Grine alleges the county improperly released some of his cell phone records in response to Right to Know requests filed by defense attorneys.

He claims the Right to Know law specifically prohibits the release of partial telephone numbers, that the county had no authority to release judicial records, and that county violated his privacy by doing so. Magisterial District Judge Kelly Gillette-Walker and Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller have filed similar lawsuits against the county.

Tanski points out that he did not specifically request partial telephone numbers, but concedes that part of Grine’s cell phone number was provided to him. He also argues that, even if the county was wrong to release the records, he did nothing wrong by asking for them.

Tanksi and the McShane firm ask the court to “dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against them in total.”

 

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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