HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday on charges that she leaked secret grand jury information, but she won’t be in the courtroom.
Kane, who faces charges including a felony count of perjury, is expected to be processed at the Montgomery County Detective Bureau in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, then arraigned via closed-circuit TV by a district judge nearly 10 miles away in Collegeville.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, whose office is prosecuting Kane, said such arrangements are increasingly made for the convenience of the people involved.
The case against Kane, 49, a political newcomer in 2012 when she became the first woman and first Democrat elected as Pennsylvania attorney general, could end her status as the state’s highest-ranking female office-holder.
She is accused of leaking secret grand jury information to an operative who passed it on to a reporter to strike back at former state prosecutor who she believed had made her look bad, and then lying about it under oath.
Kane’s lawyers say she will plead not guilty. She contends that she is innocent of any wrongdoing and has portrayed herself as a victim of payback for taking on a corrupt, old-boy law enforcement network and exposing state employees for exchanging pornographic emails.
But her support among fellow Democrats has faded in the aftermath of a Thursday news conference at which Ferman outlined specific allegations and filed more than a half dozen charges that also included two misdemeanor counts of obstruction.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat who took office in January, joined the political leaders and editorialists calling for her resignation immediately after Ferman’s announcement.
Kane’s driver and confidant, former Dunmore police chief Patrick Reese, is charged with indirect criminal contempt for his alleged role in snooping in the office computers that store emails sent and received by its employees to keep Kane informed about the grand jury investigating the leak. She directed the spying operation, according to the criminal complaint.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who authorized the grand jury probe that led to the charges and who retired in December, said Friday that Kane should step down. But, she has refused to resign and many critics are exploring possible ways to force her out of office.
Castille said the court, working through its disciplinary board, could order an emergency suspension of Kane’s law license if it believes her alleged misconduct has been “egregious.”
Though Kane would have 10 days to fight a suspension, Castille said an actual suspension would force her out of office because the state constitution requires the attorney general to have a law license.
“How can you function as a top law enforcement official facing a felony charge?” he asked.
Another possible scenario calls for Kane’s impeachment by the Legislature, a process in which the House brings charges and the Senate acts as the jury.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who sponsored an unsuccessful resolution calling for Kane’s impeachment in 2013, is sponsoring another resolution this year that has been updated to reflect recent developments. But he said a suspension by the Supreme Court would be faster.
Impeachment “is not a fast process,” the Butler County Republican said.