- Associated Press - Friday, March 4, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Attorney General Kathleen Kane is fighting back against her criminal charges, asking Friday for the case to be thrown out for selective and vindictive prosecution, and asking that every Montgomery County judge be barred from hearing her case.

Kane also challenged some of the evidence being used by prosecutors, saying it was collected by an “unlawful and unconstitutional” court-ordered grand jury investigation. The filing comes five months before Kane’s trial is scheduled to begin on charges that she allegedly leaked secret grand jury information to a reporter in 2014 to smear a rival and lied about it under oath.

As part of Kane’s filing on Friday, her lawyers included a 19-page section arguing that she is the victim of selective prosecution, but the entire portion was redacted and not available for the public to read.

Her lawyers also said three Montgomery County judges have close ties to Kane’s investigation and prosecution, giving them an interest in the outcome. They are Judge Risa Ferman, the former district attorney whose office filed the charges last year, Judge William Carpenter, who oversaw the grand jury, and Judge Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio, whose husband was appointed by Carpenter as special prosecutor.

“Under the circumstances, there could be no public faith in a fair and impartial outcome should one of their colleagues preside over these proceedings,” Kane’s lawyers argued.

Before Montgomery County prosecutors took over the case, the court-ordered special prosecutor, Thomas Carluccio, ran an grand jury in 2014 that investigated the alleged leak. That grand jury recommended charges against Kane, and evidence gathered by it, under Carluccio, was used by Montgomery County prosecutors to back up the charges they filed last year.

But Kane’s lawyers said Carluccio had no authority to use an investigative grand jury.

“In effect, there was a person without any lawful authority to do so running an investigative grand jury in this case, subpoenaing witnesses, questioning witnesses, gathering evidence, drafting a presentment and regularly and improperly colluding with the supervising judge through ex parte hearings and communications,” Kane’s lawyers said, arguing it should result in her charges being dismissed.

Kane was charged Aug. 6 with perjury, obstruction and other counts, and the case prompted the state Supreme Court to vote unanimously to suspend her law license. Kane, whose term expires next January, has said she will not run for a second term.

In the past, Kane’s lawyers have argued that a subordinate, and not her, gave a grand jury document to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter, and that the only document whose release she authorized was not subject to secrecy laws.

Kane also is charged with ordering aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on the investigation into it and harming the reputation of a former civil rights leader named in the leaked documents. She could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, perjury.

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