SCOTUS passes on the release of DC Madam's phone logs

My friends, some day we may finally be finished with the story of Jeane Palfrey (the D.C. Madam) and her black book of secrets, but today is not that day. Yesterday the Supreme Court got involved in the tawdry story, declining to weigh in on a request by her former attorney that he be allowed to publish her contact list and phone records. As with many such refusals, the Supremes declared that it all came down to a matter of standing and fact that the lawyer shouldn’t be in control of the information in the first place. (US News & World Report)

The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow release of phone records from the late “D.C. madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey, despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election.

Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do.

“I’m going to sleep on it and seek the counsel of people I trust,” he says. “It’s laundry day anyway, so I’m going to be washing all my soccer uniforms from this weekend.”

I’ve never been entirely sure what grounds Sibley has for either controlling, concealing or releasing the phone records. He never operated Palfrey’s “business” or had any stake in it whatsoever. He only had access to the information as part of his work defending her and she fired him before the case made it before a judge anyway. This may be one of those areas where I need to have some attorneys from different states weigh in because I’ve never even run across the question before. When a case is over, can your attorney just flush all the information they have about you out to the press? The only person who could definitively speak to the disposition of the material isn’t talking since Palfrey took her own life in 2008 shortly after her conviction.

It’s easy to see the appeal of putting the phone records out there given the potentially sensational nature of the contents. It likely wouldn’t “prove” anything since the records only deal with phone calls placed to the Madam, but it could certainly prove politically damaging. (Though to be fair, it didn’t entirely destroy Senator David Vitter’s career.) Repeated assertions that the list could include the name of “a presidential candidate” has had everyone talking, but absent any concrete proof this can’t be taken as more than gossip at this point. But it’s allegedly a long list and there are plenty of men with sufficient money and power in the district who likely wouldn’t want to see the list come to light.

Do we really need to know who is on this list, aside from any people who are in or running for office? I suppose it’s in the public’s best interest, but it still seems like another nasty bit of business which would only add to the swamp of DC and the unfavorably reputation of many of its denizens.