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Law professors discuss Kane case

Kathleen Kane, a 1993 Temple Law alumna, is facing perjury charges.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has recently been criticized across Philadelphia for allegedly lying under oath and leaking information to the media.

The 1993 Beasley School of Law alumna is facing charges for obstruction and perjury, currently has her law license suspended and could possibly lose her job. Her story has been followed closely by the Daily News and the Inquirer.

Conrad Weiler, lawyer and emeritus associate professor of political science, said he attended law school with Kane, but never interacted with her.

“The press does not like people who they feel have not been truthful,” he said of the case. “I think they were really praising her in the beginning and now it’s sort of like buyer’s remorse in a way.”

The Inquirer reported that during her campaign and after the election, Kane cited many issues she had with the previous way cases were handled in her office, and noted the Philadelphia legal world is “a boys’ club.”

“I have the impression that Kane is the object of a political plot to discredit her because she is the first woman and the first Democrat elected as the Pennsylvania Attorney General,” said Burton Caine, a law professor who specializes in constitutional law and the First Amendment.

Weiler disagreed with Caine, citing Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman’s involvement in the case.

“It can’t just be her enemies are out to get her,” he said. “It’s another female district attorney who indicted her. It’s not entirely sexist if Risa Ferman is the one who brought charges against her. ”

During her campaign, Kane primarily emphasized what she believed was a mishandling of the Jerry Sandusky case, the Inquirer reported. She did not believe a grand jury was necessary, and prosecution should have been handled immediately.

When Kane took office, some employees left and others were fired. She petitioned the Supreme Court to remove Barry Feudale, the judge who oversaw the Sandusky case, from office on the grounds of being unfit for the job.

“It is unusual to petition for the removal of a grand jury judge,” said David Adamany, former university president and Carnell professor of law and political science. “She may have given a reason, and it does not mean it can’t be done. But it is not the common practice.”

In March, the Inquirer reported in 2014, Kane believed Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo, members of the Pennsylvania prosecutor’s office, leaked information to the Inquirer about a sting operation. Kane did not pursue corruption charges, claiming the sting was racially motivated.

The Inquirer also reported Kane maintains she did nothing wrong in her prosecution of the case; however, a preliminary court hearing in August determined she did have sufficient evidence to take it to trial.

“It seemed like a wonderful success story when she was first elected,” Weiler said. “She took a stand, and refused to enforce laws against gay people. Then somehow all these things started to happen. I don’t know if it’s self-destruction, or her enemies are out to get her.”

Later in 2014, Kane had her office drop a sting operation from 2009 on the grounds of political corruption. Fina and Costanzo had pursued this case, under then-Attorney-General Tom Corbett.

Kane released information in what she called a “memo” about the case to the Daily News under the context of “right to know requests.” Members of her office who had been involved with the operation accused Kane of leaking grand jury information about the operation to the press, and later accused her of lying under oath about it, the Inquirer reported.

Lila Gordon can be reached at lila.gordon@temple.edu.

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