Prosecutors want to block Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane from contending at her perjury trial that the charges against her were brought in retaliation for her campaign to expose the swapping of pornography on state computers.
In court papers Thursday, prosecutors called Kane's assertion that she had been targeted for prosecution "incredible," "legally and logically irrelevant," and designed to distract jurors from the facts of the case.
"There is simply no legitimate, relevant purpose to presenting evidence of pornography" during her trial on charges of perjury, conspiracy, abuse of office and other crimes, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele wrote in court filings. "Such evidence is not even remotely relevant. . . . Simply put, evidence of pornography can only be used in an attempt to confuse the issues and mislead the jury."
Kane, 50, a Democrat, is accused of illegally leaking secret grand jury documents to the Daily News, and then lying when questioned about it under oath. Prosecutors say she leaked the information to embarrass and discredit a former prosecutor in her office, Frank Fina, whom she perceived as an enemy.
Kane has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 8.
Over the last year, Kane has repeatedly said she believes her criminal case was "corruptly manufactured" by a club of "good ol' boys" bent on preventing her from making public a trove of emails containing pornography and other offensive content.
The messages were captured on her office's computer servers because they were either sent or received by prosecutors, agents, judges and others using their government email.
Steele, in his court filings, said Kane had demonstrated a "proclivity" for touting "tired arguments of pornography" whenever there was an embarrassing development in her criminal case. That, he said, could "only be viewed as an attempt to distract and influence" jurors.
Late last year, Kane appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the exchange of emails with pornographic, racist, and otherwise offensive content. The report on that investigation has yet to be made public, but could be completed in the next few weeks, said Bruce L. Castor Jr., Kane's first deputy, in an interview Thursday.
Castor said he was prepared to release the report before Kane's trial, despite criticism that such a move might be perceived as attempting to sway potential jurors. He said it is a "bad idea to allow external influences" to affect official business.
In a separate court filing Thursday, Steele asked a Montgomery County judge to allow into evidence a secretly recorded tape of a conversation between a onetime press adviser to Kane, Josh Morrow, and a friend. Morrow, according to prosecutors, delivered the confidential documents to the Daily News on Kane's behalf.
The filing did not say who recorded Morrow or how prosecutors had obtained the tape. But people familiar with the recording said Morrow's conversation was picked up as part of an unrelated investigation in which the person Morrow was speaking to was secretly recorded.
In one conversation, prosecutors said, Morrow told his friend that Kane had asked him to leak the information and described her as "unhinged." In another, they said, Morrow is heard saying he believes Kane has "lost it" because she asked him to track down negative information on another perceived enemy.