National News

Convicted attorney general: Prosecutor given too much power

Posted June 16

— The former Pennsylvania attorney general who's been sentenced to jail for leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it said in an appeal filing Friday that a judge gave too much power to the special prosecutor who investigated her.

Kathleen Kane argued in the document filed with Superior Court that Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter's decision to give the special prosecutor grand jury authority was illegal and unconstitutional.

"While Judge Carpenter had the inherent authority to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a grand jury leak, no statute, rule of court, judicial opinion or other legal precedent authorized him to invest the special prosecutor with the authority to fully utilize the power of the investigating grand jury," her lawyer wrote.

The appeal says Carpenter violated the separation of powers doctrine and that he demonstrated a "decidedly unseemly personal enmity against her," offering as an example a February 2015 opinion in which Carpenter referred to her as "Citizen Kane."

"He clearly implies that the means which he took with respect to Ms. Kane — investing the special prosecutor with illegal and unconstitutional powers — were justified by the need which he perceived to ferret out wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Kane who, he states, was guilty of 'crimes (which) would not have been uncovered in any way other than the path I took,'" wrote Kane lawyer Joshua Lock.

The 73-page appeal brief also challenges rulings against Kane's requests to have all judges in Montgomery County prohibited from handling her case, to be able to put on evidence about a pornographic email scandal in the state prosecutor's office and to have her charges thrown out based on a claim she was being prosecuted selectively and vindictively.

Kane, 51, wants the court to dismiss the charges or order a new trial. The first-term Democrat resigned last year after being convicted of two counts of felony perjury and seven misdemeanor counts, including obstruction and conspiracy.

She remains free on bail while her appeal is pending and has yet to begin serving a 10- to 23-month sentence.

Kane's legal brief "wasn't unexpected, and we'll be filing a response," said Kate Delano, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County district attorney's office, which used information collected by the grand jury under the special prosecutor to prosecute Kane.

Kane, a former prosecutor in Scranton, was considered a rising political star when she won the office in a landslide in 2012, the first woman and first Democrat elected as attorney general in Pennsylvania.

Her critique of how the office had handled the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse investigation at Penn State created a rift with some of the lawyers who had worked under her predecessor. When secret grand jury information about another case was leaked to a newspaper, two former attorney general's office prosecutors contacted Carpenter to seek an investigation.

After Kane resigned in August, two other lawyers served briefly as attorney general before Democrat Josh Shapiro was elected in November to a four-year term.

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