Orie's attorney accuses prosecution of deliberate mistrial

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In a series of motions before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning, the attorney for state Sen. Jane Orie contends that prosecutors in her corruption trial deliberately provoked a mistrial out of concern that a jury was about to acquit the legislator.

The motions, submitted last week, ask that the prosecution of Ms. Orie and her sister Janine Orie be halted, arguing that a new trial would constitute double jeopardy as the mistrial in the case was improperly granted.

Ms. Orie, R-McCandless, is charged with using public resources and employees for campaigning.

Her trial ended in startling fashion last month after Judge Manning, while the jury was deliberating the charges, found that the defense had submitted forged documents to the court.

"Never in the history of American jurisprudence has a trial judge ... declared a mistrial during active jury deliberations based on allegedly 'forged' documents brought to his attention by the prosecution ex-parte," Jane Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, argued in one of the motions.

The defense also asked Judge Manning to recuse himself from the case, citing his statement from the bench that the defendants' camp was responsible for the forgeries.

Mr. Costopoulos also asked the court to shift the continuing investigation of possible forgeries among the defense exhibits from the district attorney's office to the state attorney general's office.

The defense has contended in the past that the prosecution is rooted in a political feud pursued by District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

Politics editor James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.


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