A Philadelphia judge today ruled to reinstate all DUI charges against state Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-Philadelphia).
Evidence against the seven-year lawmaker was thrown out in November after Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden ruled that the testimony given by the two arresting officers was not credible and “impossible” for the court to accept.
The State Attorney’s General Office, which is prosecuting the case, appealed that decision and asked that Hayden recuse himself from the proceedings after it came to light in the media that he and Parker were Facebook friends.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office handed the case off because District Attorney Seth Williams and Parker are friends.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick overturned Hayden’s decision, saying he shouldn’t have taken the case given his social media connection with Parker.
” I find that the judge did abuse his discretion. It was improper of him not to have recused himself,” said Patrick.
Afterwards, Senior Deputy Attorney General John Flannery said he was pleased with today’s ruling.
“What I’m happy about is that Johnny Rowhouse got the same justice as an elected politician,” said Flannery,
“We’re back in the ballgame.”
Parker’s attorney Joseph Kelly said he was “shocked” by the court’s decision to re-instate charges.
Kelly said he would start the appeals process with the state’s Superior Court by the end of the week.
” Judge [Charles] Hayden was put on trial today, which is shame,” said Kelly. ” Judge Hayden is a reputable judge – been a great judge.”
Kelly added that he has tried more than 15,000 DUI cases and that the testimony given by Officers Israel Miranda and Stephanie Allen was the ” worst testimony I’ve ever seen.” Miranda’s, in particular, he said, was “horrible.”
Kelly was surprised with Patrick’s decision given that she was not in the room during police testimony.
” You can’t just reverse somebody because the Commonwealth makes the argument that they should be reversed,” he said.
A visibly upset Parker would not comment outside of the courtroom.
Parker’s DUI charge
Police pulled over Parker on April 30 in Germantown after they allegedly spotted her driving her state-issued car the wrong way down a one way stretch of Haines Street. Parker’s blood-alcohol-level that night was .16, twice the legal limit, according to police paperwork from the incident.
Police said Parker told them she had two beers and a chocolate martini at Club Champagne, a fact Parker later denied.
They also testified in September that Parker’s eyes were glassy, that her breath smelled of alcohol and that she had trouble standing and speaking during the stop. Parker also didn’t have her driver’s license, registration card or insurance card, they said.
In November, Hayden ruled that there were a number of inconsistencies during the testimonies of both Miranda and Allen.
He took issue, for example, with Miranda’s claim that he considered someone to be driving under the influence after consuming “one beer” and the initial claim that there were no other cars on the street when the arrested Parker. Allen testified that there was a car between Parker and her 14th Police District squad car.
In its appeal, the Attorney General Office said Hayden based his decision on facts that were “clearly contradicted by the record.”
The Attorney General’s Office took issue, for example, with Hayden’s conclusion that Miranda had a “zero tolerance for drinking”; that Miranda and Allen both testified that there were no cars driving in the neighborhood the night of the arrest; and that the pair’s testimony that Parker’s eyes were “glassy” was not mentioned in police paperwork.
The next court date in the case has not yet been scheduled.
Parker represents the 200th legislative district, which includes Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill and Roxborough.