Steele named ‘Trial Lawyer of the Year’

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. [email protected]­tu­ry­media. com @mont­co­court­news on Twit­ter — Ethan O’Shea, pres­i­dent of the trial lawyers sec­tion of Mont­gomery Bar As­so­ci­a­tion

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Mont­gomery County’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, who led the suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tions against for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane and ac­tor Bill Cosby, re­cently was named trial lawyer of the year by the Mont­gomery Bar As­so­ci­a­tion.

District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele re­ceived the 2018 James P. Fox Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the bar as­so­ci­a­tion’s trial lawyers sec­tion dur­ing a re­cent cer­e­mony. The cer­e­mony, held at the bar as­so­ci­a­tion’s head­quar­ters in Nor­ris­town, was at­tended by mem­bers of the le­gal com­mu­nity, the county bench and Steele’s staff and fam­ily.

“I am very hum­bled by this. This is very, very spe­cial. It means a lot to me,” Steele said as he ac­cepted the award. “I ac­cept this know­ing I didn’t do this on my own. I have this in­cred­i­ble staff of peo­ple in the D.A.’s of­fice that are ex­cep­tional, ex­cep­tional in what they do ev­ery sin­gle day.

“I’m very proud of our of­fice. I don’t think it’s just one of the best in the state, I think it’s one of the best in the coun­try,” Steele added. “I have to ac­cept (the award) though, not on be­half of my­self but on be­half of all those men and women in the of­fice that I work with that do ex­tra­or­di­nary things ev­ery day and I hope that you’re all as proud of them as I am.”

The James P. Fox award rec­og­nizes ex­cel­lence both in­side and out­side the court­room, said Ethan O’Shea, pres­i­dent of the trial lawyers sec­tion of the bar as­so­ci­a­tion. O’Shea said “it was a fairly easy de­ci­sion to make” in se­lect­ing Steele for the an­nual honor.

“Un­less you have been liv­ing in a box, the past two years for our district at­tor­ney have been rather ex­tra­or­di­nary,” said O’Shea, re­fer­ring to Steele’s 2016 pros­e­cu­tion of Kane and his pros­e­cu­tion of Cosby at two tri­als in 2017 and 2018.

“Most of us will go our en­tire ca­reers with not hav­ing a trial like that. Mr. Steele had three of them in two years.”

On Aug. 15, 2016, Kane, the first Demo­crat and the first woman ever elected at­tor­ney gen­eral, was con­victed of charges of per­jury, ob­struct­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of law, of­fi­cial op­pres­sion, false swear­ing and con­spir­acy. The jury de­ter­mined Kane or­ches­trated the il­le­gal dis­clo­sure of se­cret grand jury in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia and then en­gaged in acts de­signed to con­ceal and cover up her con­duct. Steele and co-pros­e­cu­tor Michelle Henry ar­gued Kane did so to ex­act “re­venge” on a for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor with whom she was feud­ing.

Kane, 52, sub­se­quently was sen­tenced to a 10-to23-month jail term.

Cosby was con­victed by a jury in April of three counts of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault in con­nec­tion with the as­sault of An­drea Con­stand, a for­mer Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity ath­letic de­part­ment em­ployee, af­ter drug­ging her with “three blue pills” while she vis­ited his Chel­tenham res­i­dence in Jan­uary 2004. Cosby, 81, is serv­ing a 3-to10-year prison term.

It was the sec­ond trial for Cosby, who played Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992. Cosby’s first trial in June 2017 ended in a mis­trial when a jury se­lected from Al­legheny County couldn’t reach a ver­dict.

Dur­ing the Cosby tri­als, Steele and co-pros­e­cu­tors M. Ste­wart Ryan and Kris­ten Fe­den de­scribed Cosby as a trusted men­tor who be­trayed the friend-

“Un­less you have been liv­ing in a box, the past two years for our district at­tor­ney have been rather ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

“I am very hum­bled by this. This is very, very spe­cial. It means a lot to me.” — Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele

ship he had with Con­stand and said the crim­i­nal case was “about trust … about be­trayal.”

In ac­cept­ing the award, Steele praised Henry, Ryan and Fe­den for be­ing part of his team dur­ing the three high-pro­file tri­als.

“In those cases in par­tic­u­lar, I’ve had some in­cred­i­ble part­ners,” Steele said. “Those cases take the will­ing­ness to push beyond what you think you’re ca­pa­ble of and that means work­ing nights, week­ends and be­ing home af­ter your fam­ily has gone to bed and be­ing up and out be­fore they wake up.”

O’Shea said the three, high-pro­file tri­als were not the only rea­sons Steele was se­lected for the honor.

“Kevin has been work­ing his en­tire ca­reer to­ward those mo­ments,” said O’Shea, adding Steele runs his of­fice with “dig­nity, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ex­cel­lence.” “Kevin knew what he was meant to be.”

Steele, a grad­u­ate of The Dick­in­son School of Law of the Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­ver­sity who also re­ceived a Mas­ter of Laws De­gree in Trial Ad­vo­cacy from Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity Law School, joined the district at­tor­ney’s of­fice in 1995 af­ter a two-year stint with the Dauphin County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

In Mont­gomery County, Steele served as an as­sis­tant pros­e­cu­tor, cap­tain of the nar­cotics unit and chief of the tri­als di­vi­sion be­fore be­ing ap­pointed first as­sis­tant in 2008. Steele was elected district at­tor­ney in 2015.

Es­tab­lished in 1885 to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the county’s prac­tice of law, the Mont­gomery Bar As­so­ci­a­tion (MBA) is one of the na­tion’s old­est and most re­spected bar as­so­ci­a­tions, rep­re­sent­ing more than 2,100 le­gal pro­fes­sion­als in Mont­gomery County. It is the third largest Bar in Penn­syl­va­nia.

“I ac­cept this know­ing I didn’t do this on my own. I have this in­cred­i­ble staff of peo­ple in the DA’s of­fice that are ex­cep­tional, ex­cep­tional in what they do ev­ery sin­gle day.” — Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele

“Most of us will go our en­tire ca­reers with not hav­ing a trial like that. Mr. Steele had three of them in two years.” — Ethan O’Shea, pres­i­dent of the trial lawyers sec­tion of Mont­gomery Bar As­so­ci­a­tion

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele re­ceived the 2018 James P. Fox Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the Mont­gomery Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s trial lawyers sec­tion dur­ing a re­cent cer­e­mony in Nor­ris­town.

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