The state Attorney General’s Office is asking a Philadelphia judge to reverse his decision to throw out all evidence connected to state Rep. Cherelle Parker’s drunken-driving case and recuse himself from the proceedings.
In a motion filed Monday, the Commonwealth claims that Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden based the credibility ruling on “alleged facts that were not contained in the record.” Hayden moved to suppress all evidence in the case after determining that testimony from two arresting officers was “impossible” for the court to accept.
The state is also taking issue with Parker and Hayden’s Facebook friendship, a fact that came to light following the Nov. 1 decision and the reason behind the request that Hayden remove himself from the case.
“I don’t think they’re personal friends”
The 74-page document lists a handful of items that the Commonwealth claims Hayden should not have used to inform his decision because they are not “supported by the record.”
In his ruling, for example, Hayden cited that 14th Police District Officer Israel Miranda had a “zero tolerance for drinking” and that Miranda and Officer Stephanie Allen both testified that “there were no cars driving on the streets of Germantown” the night of the arrest, according to the motion.
The Commonwealth contends that Hayden and Parker’s web-based friendship “creates an appearance of impropriety and undermines public confidence in the judiciary.” It’s an issue that can’t be corrected simply through “unfriending,” according to the motion.
Attorney Joseph Kelly, who is representing Parker, said the state’s argument that Hayden “didn’t articulate specific facts” during his decision is simply not true.
“Obviously they haven’t read the notes from the finding of facts,” he said.
Asked about the Facebook argument, Kelly said, “They’re both elected officials in Philadelphia. It’s probably a common thing. I don’t think they’re personal friends.”
Kelly added that Hayden is a man “of the highest integrity.” A call to Hayden’s chambers was not immediately returned.
In an email, an official with the state Attorney General’s Office said that no one was available to comment for the time being and that the motion “speaks for itself.”
The state office is prosecuting the case after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams recused his office because of his friendship with Parker.
The back story
On April 30, Parker was pulled over around midnight after police saw her traveling the wrong way down a one-way section of Haines Street in Germantown. Kelly claimed that Parker never drove down Haines, but nearby Baynton Street.
Parker’s blood-alcohol level that night was allegedly .16, double the legal limit. Kelly disputes that figure, saying that the officers were not properly trained to calibrate a Breathalyzer.
The Commonwealth currently has 30 days from the Nov. 1 ruling to review the decision and decide whether it wants to appeal the motion to suppress all evidence.
Parker, a Democrat, represents Pennsylvania’s 200th Legislative District, which includes sections of the Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill and Roxborough neighborhoods in Philadelphia.