Orie attorney outlines appeal in court filing

12 errors by judge alleged

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The attorney for former state Sen. Jane Orie filed paperwork Tuesday listing what he considers appealable issues in her case.

In the filing with the Allegheny County Department of Court Records, written in all capital letters, attorney William Costopoulos alleges 12 errors on the part of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

Among the issues Mr. Costopoulos includes is one that he attempted to take before the appellate courts last year -- that Orie could not be retried after the trial in 2011 because the proceedings were barred based on double jeopardy.

Judge Manning rejected the argument last year, and the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Orie's attorney also claims that Judge Manning erred by not removing the Allegheny County district attorney's office from trying the case because of either a conflict of interest or personal animus.

Mr. Costopoulos has argued that the case against Orie was brought by District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. because of a political feud between their families. Judge Manning forbade the defense from raising the issue at trial.

Other complaints listed in the filing include that the judge failed to suppress evidence; that the state's conflict of interest statute is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad; that the judge erred in ordering more than $110,000 in restitution for legal fees incurred by the Senate Republican Caucus; and that there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Orie was responsible for the forged documents submitted at evidence during her first trial.

The filing is a procedural matter that is a prelude to a formal appeal.

District attorney spokesman Mike Manko said: "All of the issues being raised have already been litigated and found to be without legal and/or evidentiary support. Raising the same issues again and placing them in capital letters doesn't change that."

University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff said there was nothing new in the list of alleged trial errors.

"That's not good news for ex-Senator Orie," he said. "Many of these issues have been ruled upon previously, and not in Orie's favor. And most of the rest of the issues are the standard sort of stuff every convicted defendant raises, e.g. the insufficiency of the evidence."

Orie, 51, is being held at the State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs serving a 21/2- to 10-year sentence. She was found guilty by a jury of theft of services, forgery and ethics violations for using her legislative staff to campaign for her.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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