Pa. Senate plan would allow independent review of prosecutors

     State Supreme Court justices highlighted the absence of an independent prosecutor law when they rejected embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane's bid to dismiss an investigation into her activity. (AP file photo)

    State Supreme Court justices highlighted the absence of an independent prosecutor law when they rejected embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane's bid to dismiss an investigation into her activity. (AP file photo)

    A state senator says he hopes to revive an expired Pennsylvania law that created a process for investigation the sitting attorney general.

    Pennsylvania had such a law briefly, but it expired in 2003, and lawmakers never renewed it. Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, said he’ll propose a measure that wouldn’t need regular review.

    “I believe it would be best to have something permanently in place,” said Gordner. “I was in touch with the Supreme Court offices, and they have indicated that they would like the General Assembly to weigh in with some legislation.”

    State Supreme Court justices highlighted the absence of an independent prosecutor law when they rejected Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s bid to dismiss an investigation into her activity.

    Kane argued there was no explicit law allowing a Montgomery County judge to appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations she leaked secret grand jury information.

    The high court didn’t side with Kane, but two justices said it would be best to have a specific procedure for investigating the state’s top law enforcement official.

    Common Cause of Pennsylvania director Barry Kauffman calls it a “safety valve.” Kauffman, who pushed for the independent counsel law back in 1998, said it was supposed to provide a way to bring charges in cases where prosecutors with jurisdiction have conflicts of interest.

    Kauffman said lawmakers wanted to give themselves a chance to review the law, so they gave it a “sunset,” or an expiration date: 2003.

    “It was allowed to sunset because it never got used after that,” Kauffman said. “That’s like saying, ‘We had a fire extinguisher, but we’re going to throw it out because we haven’t used it in the last five years.'”

    Senate proposal would allow independent review of prosecutors

     

    A state senator says he hopes to revive an expired Pennsylvania law that created a process for investigation the sitting attorney general.

     

    Pennsylvania had such a law briefly, but it expired in 2003, and lawmakers never renewed it. Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, said he’ll propose a measure that wouldn’t need regular review.

     

    “I believe it would be best to have something permanently in place,” said Gordner. “I was in touch with the Supreme Court offices, and they have indicated that they would like the General Assembly to weigh in with some legislation.”

     

    State Supreme Court justices highlighted the absence of an independent prosecutor law last week when they rejected Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s bid to dismiss an investigation into her activity.

     

    Kane argued there was no explicit law allowing a Montgomery County judge to appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations she leaked secret grand jury information.

     

    The high court didn’t side with Kane, but two justices said it would be best to have a specific procedure for investigating the state’s top law enforcement official.

     

    Common Cause of Pennsylvania director Barry Kauffman calls it a “safety valve.” Kauffman, who pushed for the independent counsel law back in 1998, said it was supposed to provide a way to bring charges in cases where prosecutors with jurisdiction have conflicts of interest.

     

    Kauffman said lawmakers wanted to give themselves a chance to review the law, so they gave it a “sunset,” or an expiration date: 2003.

     

    “It was allowed to sunset because it never got used after that,” Kauffman said. “That’s like saying, ‘We had a fire extinguisher, but we’re going to throw it out because we haven’t used it in the last five years.’”

     

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