NORRISTOWN (AP) - Pennsylvania's attorney general has been ordered to trial on all charges including perjury, obstruction.
Accusations that the state's attorney general used her position to smear a civil rights leader's reputation are moot because he had already been the subject of negative newspaper articles, her lawyer argued Monday at her preliminary hearing.
Gerald Shargel, who once represented New York City mobsters, sparred with a suburban Philadelphia judge as he tried to chip away at official oppression charges against Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Kane, a 49-year-old first-term Democrat, is accused of leaking secret grand jury information to the press, lying under oath and ordering aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on an investigation into the leak.
District Judge Catherine Rebar is expected to decide whether to send all or some of the charges to trial.
The judge tangled with Shargel as he attempted to use his cross-examination of a top Kane aide as a platform to argue against the oppression charges.
Shargel contended that former Philadelphia NAACP head J. Whyatt Mondesire already lost his reputation when articles dating to 2010 alleged issues with his finances. Shargel said Mondesire couldn't lose his reputation a second time.
Kane is accused of leaking a confidential grand jury memo and transcript related to the Mondesire case to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter to embarrass rival prosecutors involved in the case.
"I'm not here as a potted plant. I'm here to represent my client," Shargel said, as Rebar attempted to rein him in with a reminder of the looser rules of evidence and lower burden of proof at a preliminary hearing.
Mondesire wasn't charged with a crime.
Detective Paul Bradbury, who investigated Kane, said the leak caused Mondesire "great personal distress and distress to his family" and forced him to close his charity when donations dried up after the newspaper story.
Montgomery County prosecutors charged Kane this month following the recommendations of a grand jury.
A perjury conviction alone could land Kane in prison for up to seven years.
Special Agent David Peifer, who's in charge of special investigations for Kane's office, testified he provided her with a copy of a transcript related to Mondesire months before it appeared in a Daily News article last year.
Peifer also testified that he had a copy of a memo related to a confidential case emailed to her last summer.
Kane told a grand jury last November she had never seen the memo, Bradbury testified.
Kane didn't comment to reporters Monday as she followed an entourage of law enforcement agents and her twin sister into the courtroom.
She hasn't entered a plea but has said publicly that she committed no crimes in a long feud with rival prosecutors, including top deputies who had left her office.
According to prosecutors, 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 email, according to the criminal affidavit, which describes an almost Shakespearean level of intrigue, jealousy and vengeance inside the normally staid attorney general's office.
Kane 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 she 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 bound into office as a rising political star in 2013 before internal feuds burst into view in the media.
After Kane was charged, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and other fellow Democrats urged her to step down. She has vowed to remain in office.
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