Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Judge castigates Intell for "total breach of ethical responsibility."

According to an account in the Sept. 22 New Era: Judge Dennis Reinaker "scolded former County Coroner Dr. G. Gary Kirchner, this morning, placing him on one year of probation for giving newspaper reporters his password to a secured law-enforcement Web site."

But perhaps of greater significance to our community, the New Era further reports that Judge Reinaker as saying:

"I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge the wholly inappropriate role played by the various newspapers. Their focus on the pursuit of news, on getting the scoop if you will, resulted in a compromise of their integrity and a total breach of their ethical responsibility as well. While immunity from prosecution in return for their testimony in this case may well have been necessary, it in no way mitigates their complicity in this criminal behavior."

NewsLanc has three concerns about the handling of the case:

1) We can think of no other reason for Attorney General Tom Corbett offering immunity to all five reporters rather than to just one than as a political accommodation to the local media.

2) Since Intell editor Ray Shaw's approval to violate the law was apparently obtained by the reporters, he should have been charged as a co-conspirator. If he indeed condoned the reporters actions, his offense looms larger than their's or the coroners.

3) Will Shaw now make a public apology and provide an explanation for his and the reporters' actions ?

We commend the New Era for fully reporting both the Corbett investigation and Judge Reinaker's comments.