AG Kane to face trial on perjury, other charges, says judge

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania's Attorney General, will stand trial after being charged with multiple crimes, including perjury and obstruction of justice, a Montgomery County judge ruled Tuesday.

Kane's attorney, Gerald Shargel, claims the Attorney General unknowingly signed a Grand Jury secrecy oath two days after she took office in January 2013.  Kane testified she was not sworn to secrecy when she testified to the 2009 probe prior to beginning her first term. Montgomery County prosecution witness, detective Paul Bradbury, testified Tuesday they collected a signed secrecy oath when they executed a search warrant on the Attorney General's office in September. The oath required Kane "keep secret all matters which take place in the grand jury room."

Shargel, arguing the prosecution had no evidence proving Kane had knowingly signed the oath, called her erroneous grand jury testimony an "honest mistake," adding there was no evidence she misled any grand juries. He argued the Attorney General was "overwhelmed" by the fact she was asked to sign a secrecy oath, along with a series of other official documents, just two days after taking office.

"Should she be held to a higher standard? Perhaps," Shargel told reporters following the preliminary hearing. "But not a higher standard of comprehension, given everything going on, just two days after taking office."

Ms. Kane smiled but did not make any comments before or after walking into the Montgomery County courtroom. The hearing, presided over by Montgomery County Magisterial Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar, last approximately 90 minutes.

The lead prosecutor, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele, admitted to reporters after the hearing his legal team had a low burden of proof to meet to send their case to a trial. Shargel, who attempted multiple times to argue the prosecution lacked evidence, was told by Judge Rebar his arguments would be better saved for the trial.

Kane will be formally arraigned on January 6. She is expected to plead not guilty and waive the hearing. A trial date will be determined then. Kane, the first female and Democrat elected as Attorney General in Pennsylvania, will stand trial for two counts of felony perjury charges, obstruction of justice, false swearing, conspiracy, and official oppression. Her law license was suspended by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in October.