The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of Patrick Reese, a one-time aide to former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane who was convicted of criminal contempt.
The denial of appeal automatically affirms the ruling of the state Superior Court, which upheld Reese’s conviction in February. Reese is set to begin his three- to six-month prison sentence Nov. 13, according to a statement from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
Reese’s attorney, William Fetterhoff of Fetterhoff and Zilli, did not return a call for comment.
Reese was convicted in late 2015 on one count of indirect criminal contempt for searches he made that were found to have violated a court order in the grand jury investigation that ultimately recommended charges against Kane. Kane was convicted late last year on charges of perjury and abuse of her office.
Reese had challenged numerous aspects of the conviction, including the sufficiency of the evidence, but a unanimous three-judge panel of the Superior Court denied his bid to overturn the conviction.
On appeal Reese argued that the judge who found him guilty in the bench trial, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge William Carpenter, should have recused because Reese’s alleged criminal conduct included illegally searching the office’s electronic records for emails that referenced Carpenter, who had overseen the underlying grand jury. Reese also contended that Carpenter showed bias toward Kane through statements he made, including calling Kane “citizen Kane.”
“Appellant argues that these statements indicated that Judge Carpenter had concluded Ms. Kane was guilty, and that there was a ‘likelihood of spillover prejudice’ to him,” Superior Court Senior Judge William H. Platt wrote in the court’s February opinion. “This issue does not merit relief.”
Platt cited Carpenter’s reasoning for staying on the case, saying that the “citizen Kane” comment had been taken out of context and the search criteria had no bearing on his impartiality. Platt further noted that Reese did not show that any actual prejudice occurred during the proceedings.
Reese had also contended that prosecutors failed to prove he knew about the protective order he was found to have violated, or that the prosecution was able to show he searched the electronic archives with criminal intent.
Citing testimony from a detective with the prosecutor’s office, an email from Kane and testimony from another former Kane confidant, David Peifer, Platt said there had been “ample evidentiary support” for the trial court’s conclusions.