Sunday, October 23, 2016

DEFENSE: Kathleen Kane Did "a lot of good" as Pa. Attorney General

[NOTE: Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Margaret Kane faces sentencing Monday, Oct. 24 after a jury convicted her of charges of perjury and abuse of power, finding she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and engaged in acts designed to cover up her conduct. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking prison time; defense is seeking probation or house arrest.]

As Kathleen Kane’s defense lawyer Marc Robert Steinberg prepared for a Monday sentencing hearing that will decide Kane’s fate, hoping for a sentence of probation or house arrest for Kane, he asked Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy to consider the “good” Kane accomplished as the state’s top cop.

“Despite the conduct that brings her before the court, Kathleen accomplished a lot of good during her tenure as Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer,” Steinberg, of Lansdale, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Montco Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy/ Mercury file photo




It remains to be seen if Demchick-Alloy considers the reported accomplishments as a mitigating factor in Kane’s favor when she imposes Kane’s punishment.

Steinberg listed the following Kane accomplishments:

REFUSAL TO DEFEND PENNSYLVANIA’S GAY MARRIAGE BAN

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Following the decision, several same-sex couples and members of their families sued state public officials, Steinberg said.

“Believing Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, Ms. Kane courageously said that she could not ethically defend the statute,” Steinberg wrote. “Ms. Kane faced opposition in defending her position, but upheld her sworn duty to defend the Constitutions of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Steinberg said the following year, the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania agreed with Kane, finding that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

CREATION OF MOBILE STREET CRIMES UNIT

Motivated by a desire to combat the state’s growing heroin epidemic Kane advocated for the creation of a special unit to address the problem with narcotics, Steinberg said. Her request for state funds to establish the unit was granted and the mobile street crimes unit was created in 2013.

“In its first deployment alone, the unit made more than 100 arrests and seized approximately 35,000 packets of heroin in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. The unit’s success has been credited, in part, to its commitment to working with local police departments,” Steinberg claimed, adding former Hazelton officials have written letters on Kane’s behalf, “describing the tremendous improvements the mobile street crimes unit made in the lives of the citizens of Hazleton.”

CLOSING THE FLORIDA LOOPHOLE

Steinberg said prior to Kane’s election, Pennsylvanians who were denied concealed-carry gun permits in Pennsylvania could apply for those permits in Florida. Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreement with Florida allowed those Pennsylvanians denied a permit in Pa. to apply for one in Florida, receive the permit, and have that Florida permit recognized in Pa.
Kathleen Kane/Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.


Shortly after taking office, Kane, according to Steinberg, revised Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreement with Florida to restrict Pennsylvania’s recognition of a Florida concealed-carry permit to those held only by Florida residents, and requiring Pennsylvania residents to comply with the Pa. standards.

“By closing the ‘Florida loophole,’ Kathleen Kane ensured that Pennsylvania authorities would regulate the propriety of issuing concealed-carry permits for Pennsylvanians,” Steinberg wrote.

EXPANSION OF ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CHILD PREDATOR UNIT

Steinberg said during Kane’s first year in office she facilitated an increase in the section’s budget from $1.3 million to $4.3 million, with the additional funds going toward the purchase of two mobile forensic trucks for on-scene computer analysis, establishing a state-of-the-art command center, hiring additional agents and lawyers and investing in additional training.

Steinberg claimed 2013 saw the arrests of 114 child predators, a six-fold increase over the section’s 2012 arrests.

“Child predator arrest numbers have continued to grow since that time, and the Child Predator Section remains a national leader in combatting crimes against children,” Steinberg said.

PREVENTING PRIVATIZATION OF PENNSYLVANIA LOTTERY

Steinberg said in 2013, Kane successfully prevented the privatization of the state’s lottery by arguing against a deal that would have allowed a British company to privately manage the lottery and share in both oversight of and profits from the lottery, a system that had generated $3.5 billion the year before the deal was presented.

Kathleen Kane/ Photo from Video by Carl Hessler Jr.
“All of those proceeds remain dedicated solely to programs benefitting senior citizens the only lottery in the country to do so,” Steinberg claimed, adding Kane argued the contract violated Pennsylvania law because it lacked authorization by the legislature, and illegally expanded gambling. 

“She contended that gambling laws implicate important social concerns and thereby protected the system of checks and balances requiring legislative input for modification or expansion of those laws. This success by Ms. Kane kept both funds and jobs in the commonwealth.”

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