State Rep. Cherelle Parker’s alleged drunk-driving case will continue into 2013.
The seven-year lawmaker is scheduled to stand trial in Philadelphia Municipal Court on Jan. 16, well over a year after her arrest in Germantown.
A yet-selected judge from outside of Philadelphia County will hear the case following a request from the State Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case.
“Too many people know the defendant and, therefore, we felt it was more appropriate for someone who does not know the defendant, has no connection to Philadelphia, to hear the matter,” John Flannery, senior deputy attorney general, said following Tuesday’s status hearing.
Personal relationships not a new issue
Last November, Flannery’s office asked that Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden recuse himself from the proceedings after it came to light in the media that he and Parker were Facebook friends.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams recused his office because of his real-life friendship with Parker.
Two weeks earlier, Hayden ruled to suppress all evidence in the case after he determined that testimony provided by Parker’s arresting officers was not credible and therefore “impossible” for the court to accept.
Hayden refused to recuse himself or reverse his decision, which the Attorney General’s office had also requested.
A Commonwealth Court judge later ruled to reinstate all charges and evidence against Parker, saying that Hayden should not have taken the case given the pair’s social-media connection.
Defense attorney Joseph Kelly, who represents Parker, said he wasn’t surprised by the Commonwealth’s request, but said the move was unnecessary.
“I think they’re fair, every last one of them,” said Kelly of the city’s Municipal Court judges. “I guess whoever they pick, they better check their Facebook page, make sure they’re not on Facebook with any DA’s or any cops or anybody.”
Kelly added that he stands by Hayden’s ruling last year and is prepared to appeal if the lower-court decision is in not in his client’s favor.
Flannery said he believes his office has a “very strong” case against Parker.
The back story
Police pulled Parker over on April 30, 2011 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-concentration that night was .16, twice the legal limit, according to police paperwork from the incident.