State files appeal challenging suppression of evidence in Rep. Parker’s DUI case

The state Attorney General’s Office is appealing a Philadelphia judge’s recent ruling to suppress all evidence connected to state Rep. Cherelle Parker’s drunken-driving case.

On Nov. 1, Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden moved to strike all evidence from the DUI proceedings after he decided that police testimony was not credible and “impossible” for the court to accept.

In its appeal, filed Tuesday, the Commonwealth claims that Hayden “abused” his discretion by basing his credibility ruling on facts that are “clearly contradicted by the record.”

The Attorney General’s Office takes issue, for example, with Hayden’s conclusion that Officer Israel Miranda had a “zero tolerance for drinking”; that Miranda and Officer Stephanie 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.

A call to Hayden’s chambers seeking comment on the appeal was not immediately returned.

The Commonwealth is also taking issue with Hayden’s refusal to recuse himself from the case, a request the state made after Hayden and Parker’s Facebook friendship came to light.

The Commonwealth is prosecuting the case after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams recused his office because he is friends with Parker.

Attorney Joseph Kelly, who is representing Parker, has said that it’s difficult to successfully appeal a credibility finding. Kelly has also said that Hayden and Parker’s web-based friendship is not necessarily cause for concern, saying that Facebook friendships among elected officials are common in the city.

On April 30, Philadelphia police pulled over Parker around midnight in Germantown after they allegedly spotted her driving the wrong way down a one way stretch of Haines Street. Parker’s blood-alcohol-level that night was .16, according to police paperwork from the incident.

A status hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19. A motions hearing will follow on Jan. 17.

Parker, a Democrat, represents Pennsylvania’s 200th Legislative District, which includes sections of the Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill and Roxborough neighborhoods in Philadelphia

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.