Jonathan Kanter, the lawyer representing Anthony Pellicano and others in a conspiracy case, just resigned from a key post on Google’s ethics advisory council.
How did it all happen?
On Wednesday, Kanter resigned from his position on Google’s Ethics Advisory Council , citing “family and personal concerns.” But he said in his resignation letter that the decision was also based on “serious concerns” that Google executives “reached out to” him about “re-opening my old criminal litigation.”
According to Kanter, Google made the decision to have him represent individuals charged in a “criminal conspiracy” case, against whom he has litigated in previous cases. On Sunday, he tweeted the link to a column in which CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticized Google for working with Pellicano.
“As one who loves law, justice and America, I’m deeply disappointed,” Kanter wrote in a blog post announcing his resignation.
On Friday, the New York Times’ Emma Brown reported that prosecutors are offering assurances that Google will be able to bypass passcodes and access phones to download and review recordings of communication between defendants and law enforcement.
“We received the request from prosecutors and found it problematic, in particular because it would constitute an abuse of the search warrant process,” Kanter wrote in his resignation letter.
However, a source close to the company told CNN the worries over prosecuting Kanter have been a longstanding source of concern for those at Google.
“They were under tremendous pressure from prosecutors to insist that Mr. Kanter be removed because they believe he could be biased against them in court,” said a source familiar with Google’s thinking. “Those that made the decision were also concerned about prosecution leaks. Many staff felt Google was being forced to make an ethical decision, and were concerned that Google was being heavily influenced by prosecutors on this one.”
Asked about Google’s ethics advisory council, a company spokesperson said the company does have an ethics committee.
“Ethics Councils are a team of people charged with advising us on our values and values related to ethics. This team meets every quarter and issues reports to the CEO and the Board on important ethical matters,” the spokesperson said.
CNN has reached out to the prosecutors overseeing the investigation, as well as to Kamala Harris, the California Democrat who’s running for president, and John Kerry, who’s running for president in 2020. Neither of them have commented.