Pennsylvania AG Kane in court Monday in perjury, obstruction case
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's top prosecutor will find herself at the defense table in the first evidence hearing on charges she leaked grand jury material to the press, lied about it under oath and ordered top aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on the investigation that followed.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane insists she committed no crimes in her long feud with rival prosecutors, including top deputies who had left her office.
"The vast majority of preliminary hearings result in a ruling favorable to the state," lead defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said Friday. "But I think that the hearing on Monday is an important event in the timeline of this case."
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman made the final decision to charge Kane, following the similar recommendation of a grand jury overseen by a county judge.
Ferman applauded veterans of Kane's office who cooperated "at great risk to themselves, personally and professionally." She credited them with "tremendous courage."
It's unclear if any of them will testify at Monday's preliminary hearing, or if detectives will instead outline the case in the effort to show probable cause and send the case to trial.
The 42-page police affidavit shows Kane increasingly focused on lawyers who challenged her decisions, including career prosecutor Frank Fina, who revived a statehouse corruption case after moving to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.
"This is war," Kane wrote in a March 2014 e-mail, according to the criminal affidavit, which describes an almost Shakespearean level of intrigue, jealousy and vengeance inside the normally staid Attorney General's Office.
Lawyers involved in the case expect the scheduled 1 p.m. hearing to wrap up by day's end. Lead investigators will testify about most of the evidence, but other witnesses could take the stand, according to Ferman's deputy, First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Kane, 49, has dismissed the probe as unfair backlash over her challenge to what she calls the old boys' network in state government. She is the first woman elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, and has called out former lawyers in the office and even a Supreme Court justice in a probe of pornography circulated on state email. The justice stepped down over the images.
Kane, a former assistant district attorney from Scranton, bound into office as a rising political star in 2013 before internal feuds burst into view in the press.
She has hired nationally known lawyers to defend her, including former Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis, who has since bowed out, and Shargel, a top-tier New York trial lawyer known for defending mobsters, politicians and high-profile murder suspects.
Back home, Gov. Tom Wolf and other fellow Democrats have urged Kane to step down. However, she has vowed to remain in office.
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