One of the allegations in Sullivan & Cromwell’s countersuit against its former associate, Aaron Charney, is that Charney leaked sensitive internal documents to the Wall Street Journal.
The firm’s Complaint implies that Charney physically removed — i.e., stole — confidential documents from the files of a partner. S&C alleges that Charney then leaked these materials to the Wall Street Journal.
And who, pray tell, was the Journal reporter who received the leaked documents? None other than Peter Lattman, author of the WSJ’s popular Law Blog, as well as a reporter for the print edition of the Journal.
Charney hasn’t admitted anything, so S&C’s allegations haven’t been proven (although the circumstantial evidence is very, very strong). How can the allegations be definitively established and thoroughly explored? Through the testimony of Peter Lattman, of course.
Thus far, Lattman isn’t giving up his source. When contacted by the New York Law Journal, the WSJ, through a spokesman, said that it “does not comment on sourcing.”
Has Peter Lattman said anything about his role in this controversy over at the Law Blog? No. Why not? Because he hasn’t been around.
Earlier today, a Lattman fan sent us this email:
Can you find out if Peter Lattman is away from the Law Blog this week because of his role in the S&C documents being made public? Usually he tells us when he’s going to be away. Who is Marmor?
After redacting our reader’s name and email address, we forwarded this query to the Law Blog. About ten minutes later, this post went up:
We’ve had some inquiries as to Peter Lattman’s whereabouts this week. Sorry we didn’t notify our loyal readership sooner, but Peter’s out of town through Wednesday on assignment. Meanwhile, thanks to colleague Jessica Marmor for stepping up and pitching in!
So P. Latt is away “on assignment.” Is that what they’re calling it these days? [FN1]
Very interesting. We previously speculated that Peter Lattman might make an appearance at Thursday’s hearing in S&C v. Charney. But in light of his delicate position at the eye of the storm, we doubt that he’ll show. In fact, he will probably try to stay as far away from 60 Centre Street as possible.
If “Charneygate” is the Biglaw version of the Valerie Plame saga, then Peter Lattman is our Judith Miller. Judy Miller went to jail to protect her sources. How far will Peter Lattman go? [FN2]
To lawyers who practice in First Amendment and media law: (1) Does New York have a reporter’s privilege and/or shield laws? (2) If so, what are the general standards that must be satisfied to invoke those protections?
[FN1] We have no reason to doubt that Peter Lattman is, in fact, out of town on assignment. But we love drama and mischief-making, so please indulge us.
[FN2] Yes, we know — any exposure Peter Lattman might have if he refuses to testify in a civil case is nothing compared to what Judith Miller faced. He might just have to pay a fine rather than go to jail (assuming he can even be held in contempt at all). But we love drama and mischief-making, so please indulge us.
Update: This comment makes a good point (and our clouded thinking is probably a sign that we need to step away from the computer now). But we love drama and mischief-making, so please indulge us.
Where’s Peter? [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)