After Kathleen Kane's conviction, what's next?

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane in the hallway after exiting the courtroom where jurors were read the charges against her at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown on Monday, Aug. 15.

While Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane has been convicted of perjury and other crimes, she does not have to resign as Pennsylvania's top law enforcement official — at least not immediately.

The state constitution says public officials convicted of certain offenses, including perjury and other "infamous crimes," must step down. Over the years, however, court decisions have allowed officials to remain in office until sentencing. 

The judge in Kane’s case indicated that sentencing would occur within 90 days. That would fall before Kane, 50, a Democrat, leaves office in January. She is not seeking another four-year term.

After Kane was criminally charged last year, the state Supreme Court suspended her law license, putting her in a position of being the state's top lawyer but without the ability to practice law.

Conviction on serious charges typically leads to disbarment. However, that process by the state Supreme Court can take a year or more and does not begin until sentencing.

Disbarred lawyers may seek to regain their licenses after five years, a request that is typically granted.

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Bruce L. Castor Jr., Kane's first deputy, said in an interview Monday that even a convicted elected official "cannot be forced out of office, absent an action by the legislature, or an action by the Supreme Court."

Gov. Wolf, however, reiterated his call for her to step down, calling the conviction Monday “a sad day for the commonwealth.”

"There should be no question that she should resign immediately,” he said.

Numerous legislators on Monday also called for her to step down.

If Kane refuses to step down, the legislature would have to move to impeach her or otherwise remove her from office.

Earlier this year, the state Senate was unsuccessful in its attempt to oust Kane. It sought to do so because some legislators believed that the suspension of her law license effectively disqualified her from running the Attorney General's Office.

The attorney general is required by law to have a license, although the constitution is silent on whether it must be an active one.

The House of Representatives is examining whether to move to impeach Kane.

Under state law, Castor, as Kane's top deputy, would become acting attorney general should Kane resign. Castor is a former Republican district attorney in Montgomery County and a former county commissioner.

Vying for the attorney general's job in the November election are Josh Shapiro, a former Democratic state legislator and chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners, and Republican State Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County.

acouloumbis@phillynews.com

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