Lawyer who sued AG Kane over firing reinstated, settling

A former top lawyer who sued former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, saying she fired him in retaliation for grand jury testimony against her, is getting his job back and settling that lawsuit.

Attorney General Bruce Beemer, Kane’s successor, on Thursday announced that James Barker will rejoin the office Nov. 2.

Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail and eight years’ probation on Monday after being convicted of perjury and obstruction for leaking grand jury files to embarrass a rival prosecutor. Barker’s testimony helped Montgomery County prosecutors charge Kane, who is free on bond while she appeals.

Barker was fired in April 2015 and sued six months later alleging Kane has made false explanations “that call into question his good name, honor and integrity.” Kane’s office previously said Barker’s firing as supervisor of criminal appeals and grand juries was part of restructuring and cited “supervisory accountability” amid reports about grand jury proceedings.

Barker is returning to the job from which he was fired, Chief Deputy Attorney General of the Appeals and Legal Services Section in the office’s Criminal Law Division, Beemer said, and will earn $113,617 annually.

“We are extremely pleased to restore a valued employee to a position in which he has ably served in the past,” Beemer said in a statement. Barker held the job for more than three years before he was fired, and had worked for the office more than five years.

“I am happy that the matter has been resolved, and I appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Beemer and the members of the OAG who worked to reach this agreement,” Barker said in a statement released by Beemer’s staff.

Under the settlement, Barker will also receive $18,000 — minus payroll deductions — for lost wages and $52,000 for unspecified “non-wage losses,” Beemer said. His attorneys, Post and Schell, PC, will receive $90,000 in fees as part of the settlement.

Beemer’s spokesman, Jeffrey Johnson, said Barker’s attorney will file a court document dismissing the lawsuit within three days of the money being paid. The settlement satisfies all of Barker’s legal claims.

The lawsuit said Kane fired Barker after a March 2015 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about Barker’s testimony. Barker’s testimony contradicted Kane’s own testimony in an investigation into whether she authorized the release of investigative information that was subject to criminal records secrecy laws, his lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed Kane told two senior officials in her office that she wanted to fire Barker for including the names of two third parties in a grand jury report. But the lawsuit says those names were “legal entities at issue” in the investigation, and those same two senior officials had approved their appearance in the report.

Kane was convicted of leaking secret grand jury information to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter in 2014 in an effort to embarrass two former state prosecutors and then attempted to cover it up.