Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane's bid to have her upcoming perjury trial forestalled is "a thinly veiled eleventh-hour attempt to stall the wheels of justice and avoid the public determination of her guilt," prosecutors said Wednesday.
In a filing with the state Supreme Court, Montgomery County prosecutors urged the justices to reject Kane's request that they dismiss the charges against her.
Kane, the state's highest-ranking law enforcement official, is scheduled to go on trial next week on charges of perjury, obstruction, official oppression, and other crimes. Prosecutors say she illegally leaked secret grand jury information to embarrass a political foe and later lied about it under oath. She has pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, Kane's lawyers appealed to the state's highest court in an effort to block her trial and have all charges against her dismissed. They did so in a so-called King's Bench motion.
Such actions, named for the high court in English common law, are permitted only in matters of immediate public importance. King's Bench motions are unusual, and the Supreme Court rarely grants them.
In Kane's case, her lawyers argued that the issues were urgent because her constitutional rights were at stake.
Their request to the Supreme Court repeated arguments they made in earlier pre-trial proceedings. They said the special prosecutor appointed to the grand jury that investigated the alleged leak had no legal authority to handle the matter.
Kane has already made that argument - unsuccessfully - to the state Supreme Court. Last year, the court ruled that while there is no state law explicitly authorizing it, a judge's appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the leak was appropriate.
While her legal arguments may not be new, Kane, a Democrat, is making them to a newly configured high court.
Republican justices held a majority on the Supreme Court last year. The court now has a 5-2 Democratic majority.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said that even if Kane's criticism of the special prosecutor was valid, his office had conducted its own investigation. Moreover, he said, the prosecutor's legal standing had nothing to do with Kane's illegal leak of secret information or her lies to the grand jury.
Granting a delay in Kane's trial would amount to special treatment, prosecutors said, and starting the trial as scheduled was important to the public interest.
"It's safe to say that the will of the electorate is that public officials refrain from corrupt practices and bad faith, and that they be held accountable when they violate the law by using public office to pursue personal vendettas," Deputy District Attorney Robert M. Falin wrote in the 24-page filing.
Gerald Shargel, Kane's defense lawyer, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday afternoon.
It was not clear when the Supreme Court would rule on the matter.