McCaffery Will Have to Answer Questions About Legal Fees

Pa. Supreme Court justice will have to reveal personal info in his suit against the Inquirer.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery must answer questions about referral fees he and his wife may have received from private law firms, the judge in McCaffery’s lawsuit against the Philadelphia Inquirer has ruled.

McCaffery and his wife, Lise Rapaport, are suing the paper for “false light defamation” for a 2013 article depicting how Rapaport accepted large fees from companies that later had business before her husband and the court. The stories touched off an FBI investigation and changes to court rules, but McCaffery and Rapaport denied wrongdoing.

In August, the Inquirer’s lawyers asked a judge to give them access to McCaffery’s finances, saying the information could offer proof for or against the justice’s proclamation he’d committed no wrongdoing in the case.

The Legal Intelligencer reports that McCaffery and Rapaport argued that they shouldn’t have to answer such questions:

McCaffery and Rapaport had argued the requests seek information that is irrelevant considering they don’t deny referral fees were accepted, or that is otherwise protected by attorney-client privilege. The newspapers have argued McCaffery and Rapaport contend the articles wrongly made it appear the pair did something unethical and that the papers should be able to determine through discovery whether the pair did in fact act ethically.

Cleland granted the defendants’ motion to compel without any detailed explanation. The interrogatories ask questions related to the date any referral since 1997 was made, who the client was, who the referral was made to, whether the client was given a choice of law firm, any relationship Rapaport had with the law firm to which she made the referral, why Rapaport referred the cases to the firms she did, the number of meetings Rapaport had with the client, the financial terms of the referral, whether Rapaport has any files regarding the fees and any contributions the firms that were given the referrals made to McCaffery. The interrogatories also ask whether there were fees to Rapaport that McCaffery did not disclose on his annual financial disclosure forms.

McCaffery must also answer whether he disclosed the referral fees to parties in cases where a firm that had paid a fee was involved.

The judge also ruled that the Inquirer must turn over 20,000 pages of documents to McCaffery’s lawyers by Oct. 15