A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge has reinstated drunken driving charges against a Philadelphia-area lawmaker, more than two months after a lower court judge dismissed the charges against the legislator.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paula A. Patrick reinstated a DUI charge against state Rep. Cherelle Parker, a Democrat who represents parts of Northwest Philadelphia.
A look at her criminal docket sheet confirms that driving under the influence charges against Parker were reinstated following a hearing Tuesday on a motion by state prosecutors to revive the case against the state representative.
A new trial has been set for Feb. 7 at the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Philadelphia, according to court papers.
According to the Inquirer article, Patrick ruled Tuesday morning that the lower court judge who dismissed the charges against Parker back on Nov. 1 should have recused himself from the case because of an online relationship he had with the lawmaker.
After the dismissal, it was revealed that Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden and Parker were “friends” on the social networking website Facebook.
In dismissing the case, Hayden had ruled that the two arresting officers couldn’t be believed. He had said the officers’ testimony as to why they had pulled over Parker was not credible.
Hayden tossed the evidence against Parker, essentially ending the case against her. This was despite the fact that a Breathalyzer test administered to Parker prior to her arrest showed that the legislator had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for drunken driving in Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office took umbrage with the decision, filing an appeal of Hayden’s ruling soon after the case ended in Municipal Court late last year.
Following Tuesday’s proceeding, Senior Deputy Attorney General John J. Flannery, Jr. praised Judge Patrick’s decision to let the case against Parker proceed.
“What I’m happy about is that ‘John Rowhouse’ will be getting the same treatment as some elected politician,” Flannery said, according to the Inquirer.
The newspaper quoted Parker’s attorney, Joseph Kelly, as saying that an online “friendship” between Hayden and Parker shouldn’t have been enough to allow the case to be reinstated against his client because the so-called friendship was electronic, not personal.
Kelly was also quoted in the newspaper as saying that he would have challenged the Breathalyzer results because of highly publicized calibration problems with the machine that had been reported in local media last year.
Patrick disputed Kelly’s allegations, the Inquirer reported, saying Hayden “abused his discretion. It was improper for him not to have recused himself.”