Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was found not guilty on DUI and careless driving charges in a non-jury trial on Monday.
Lackawanna County Judge Vito Geroulo issued the verdict after approximately six hours of testimony.
She had been charged with driving under the influence after a crash in Scranton in March.
“We not only proved she was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we proved she was innocent,” said Jason Mattioli, Kane’s attorney.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said he was disappointed with the verdict.
“Given the strength of the evidence we presented, I struggle to understand how the judge could find her not guilty,” Powell said in a statement.
Kane performed a field sobriety test, but refused a blood alcohol test, leaving Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Pietrowski to rely on physical signs of intoxication to prove the case.
Mattioli had sought to suppress the field sobriety test because officer Jeffrey Vaughn was placed on leave after his arrest on federal charges of accepting pay for extra-duty shifts he did not work at public housing complexes in the city. Geroulo denied that request prior to trial.
Kane did not testify.
“Seven people she came in contact with at the DUI processing center all said she was pleasant and they did not smell alcohol on her breath and did not believe she was impaired,” Mattioli said. “These are people who come into contact with impaired and intoxicated people on a daily basis.”
A bench trial was required as defendants charged with a first-time, misdemeanor count of DUI do not have a right to a jury trial.
Although she was acquitted of the charges, Kane’s license was still suspended for one year for refusing to submit to the blood alcohol test. Mattioli said that is a civil matter that she is appealing.
Has nobody wondered how she (or anyone in the state) could possibly be acquitted of a DUI on a refusal? A refusal is an automatic DUI, there’s no triable issues when the Defendant refuses a blood test. So long as the stop is Constitutional, which it was here because she got into an accident, then a refusal is undefendable. Until now, apparently.
Was this case necessary? The courts are already swamped and if the DUI Processing Center staff said Atty Kane was not smelling of alcohol and conducted herself properly then why did this case happen?
Probably a GOP DA.
She refused the blood test. It’s unheard of for anyone refusing a blood test to be acquitted absent a constitutional issue with the stop, which there wasn’t here because she got into an accident. But, the refusal is enough to charge her and it is absolutely unheard of to proceed past pre-trial motions to dismiss based on the stop, then be acquitted at a trial on a refusal. Something went down.
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