Pennsylvania attorney general's trial follows feuds, leaks

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Posted: Aug 08, 2016 6:31 PM
Pennsylvania attorney general's trial follows feuds, leaks

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The perjury trial of the state's attorney general is set to be a gossip-filled political affair with a list of potential witnesses and topics including judges, journalists and former top aides to the embattled Democrat.

A jury of six men and six women was seated Monday for the expected one-week trial of outgoing Attorney General Kathleen Kane, whose first term has been rocked by petty feuds, political intrigue and a pornographic email scandal. Opening statements are set for Tuesday.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected to the post, is charged with leaking secret grand jury information to a Philadelphia reporter to embarrass enemies and then lying about it under oath. She denies wrongdoing and says she's a victim of a "good old boys" network in state politics.

Once a rising star in the state Democratic party, Kane, 49, has instead seen her term marred by scandal and a dizzying rate of turnover among her top aides.

Kane nonetheless appeared confident seated at the defense table Monday beside a five-person legal team led by New York trial lawyer Gerald Shargel, perhaps best known for winning an acquittal for mob boss John Gotti. Her twin sister, a senior lawyer on her staff, sat in the front row.

The list of witnesses and trial topics read to the jury pool includes a Supreme Court justice who stepped down over the pornographic email scandal; the NAACP official at the center of the long-dormant probe leaked to the press; and the special prosecutor whose investigation of the leak led to Kane. Besides the felony perjury charges, Kane is charged with several misdemeanors, including obstruction, official oppression and conspiracy.

About 100 potential jurors were questioned behind closed doors Monday at the Montgomery County Courthouse in suburban Philadelphia.

Kane remains on the job even though she lost her law license after her arrest, when an ethics board accused her of "egregious conduct" based on the lengthy indictment.

Kane did not run for re-election to the $159,000-a-year post but remained defiant even as prosecutors added more charges to the case.

"You can arrest me two times, you can arrest me 10 times. I'm sure this isn't the end of the game," Kane said. "But I will not stop until the truth comes out, and I will not stop until the system operates the way it's supposed to."

Kane's attorneys have argued that she only authorized the release of nonsecret information relating to the 2009 grand jury probe of the NAACP official, who was never charged. And she denied that she was sworn to secrecy about those prior investigations, according to the arrest warrant. She said she was simply "a stay-at-home mom" at the time.

However, prosecutors said they found a signed oath to the contrary during a search of her Harrisburg offices.