Levy v. Senate of Pennsylvania (majority)Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was the "interaction" of the attorney-client privilege and the Right-to-Know Law, Act of February 14, 2008, P.L. 6, 65 P.S. secs. 67.101-67.3104 ("RTKL"). In 2010, Associated Press member Marc Levy sent two written requests to the Senate’s Right to Know Officer seeking "all bills, contracts and payment records related to the hiring of any outside lawyer or law firm to represent Sen. Robert J. Mellow beginning Jan. 1, 2009" and the same documents related to "any current or former employee of the Senate Democratic caucus beginning Jan. 1, 2009." The requests came a few days after the media reported that federal authorities executed search warrants on Senator Mellow's home and office as part of a grand jury investigation. After review, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the general rule that client identities are not protected by the attorney-client privilege, but adopted specified exceptions to this general rule. The Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court's determination that general descriptions of legal services included in attorney invoices are not covered by the umbrella of the attorney-client privilege but that specific descriptions that would reveal attorney-client communications are protected. Furthermore, the Court reversed the Commonwealth Court and overturned its decision in "Signature Information Solutions, LLC. v. Aston Township," (995 A.2d 510 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)), to the extent it determined that any reasons for denial not raised in the initial written denial of a RTKL request were waived and could not be raised at a later stage of the RTKL process.