PA Attorney General Kane gets taken to the wood shed

woodshedThe story of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the political corruption case she punted for reasons, which – if nothing else – have not as yet been explained to the satisfaction of anyone, just gets juicier and juicier.

Bad enough Kathleen Kane is being subjected to much second-guessing, her decision a head-scratching confusion; now she’s taking fire from a much disgusted fellow Democrat in Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Willliams.  In an opinion piece published in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Williams comes out swinging in defense of those who now work for him.

It’s a telling piece that throws even more doubt on the decision and Kane’s behavior in reaction to what should have been predictable and anticipated criticism.

Among Williams points revealed in Sunday’s op-ed (my editorials):

  • Williams confirms that the corruption case’s lead investigator, an African-American (such a distinction should not be necessary in almost any other situation) confirmed to Williams that racial targeting was never a direction of the sting operation.
  • Kane’s office was not in possession of the case files when she took office.  (Appearances suggest that Kane specifically demanded return of the files from the FBI before summarily acting to destroy the investigation and trove of case work.)
  • Kane’s reasoning for dumping the case due to the questionable deal given to undercover informant, Tyrone B. Ali, suggests the State AG has little appreciation for how such cases have been prosecuted successfully over-and-over again.  (How can that be the case for someone who acted as Assistant D.A. in Lackawanna County for 12 years?!?  Hmmmm … Maybe only if you never actually prosecuted anything?)
  • Williams is incredulous that Kane would hire personal lawyers that would keep her from answering any questions the public is rightfully entitled to hear.  (Why the veil of protection if a public servant is confident and – most of all – honest about her motivations and judgement?  Not to mention the fact that Kane … is …. a … LAWYER!  This among all the other mysteries connected with this fiasco reeks to high heaven in my humble opinion.)
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Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams

Perhaps Williams’ most damaging observation is that Kane has now sullied a tried and true technique used time and again by prosecutors ferreting out political corruption in the public arena.  She has stated for all the world to hear that turning a criminal into an informant, where some quid pro quo to the operative is normally a condition of their cooperation, renders any subsequent testimony suspect.

This is not at all an unusual view on the suspect motivations for a criminal turned informant and expected to testify against those further targeted.  Normally this would be a strategy for Defense Attorneys to attack at trial, not denounced in general as an investigative tool by those that prosecute.  

As a defendant’s strategy it should be analyzed; weighed; and judged by criminal magistrates and juries of one’s peers.  To have a State’s lead criminal prosecutor admit to such as a precursor to pressing any current or subsequent cases based on the same sort of ugly but sometimes necessary dirty work is simply incomprehensible!

Then to top off Kathy’s Day of Reckoning: Part 1 Frank Fina, the former State Prosecutor now working for Williams in the Philly D.A.’s office, challenges Kane to sit with him and The Inquirer to answer any and all questions posed in an effort to put this ridiculous episode to rest.

Fina fortifies his challenge by stating, “I have been a lawyer for 22 years, and a public servant for almost all of that time. I have not retained an attorney to advise me to speak, or to remain silent. I am an attorney.”

The question of course is exactly how large will Kathleen Kane’s legal entourage be … assuming she has the professional integrity to even show up?
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Part 2 of Ms. Kane’s reckoning should rightfully occur when next she runs for re-election.  She has already lost this vote from her first campaign!
 
 
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