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Lawyers say NY DA should have dropped Kennedy case

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Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, right, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan) NYC OUT, NO SALES, ONLINE OUT, TV OUT, NEWSDAY INTERNET OUT; MAGS OUT

Kerry Kennedy arrives at the Westchester County Courthouse prior to her acquittal in her drugged-driving case, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan)

Kerry Kennedy talks to reporters after leaving the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan)

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Kerry Kennedy’s high-priced lawyers made sure the jurors deciding her drugged-driving case knew all about her famous family.

But after winning a quick acquittal Friday, they said she should have been treated like “Mary Housewife.” It was the prosecutors who gave her special treatment, they said, by refusing to drop the case.

The district attorney’s office denied the accusation. And Kennedy herself said she wasn’t angry about being put on trial.

A human-rights advocate, Kennedy is a scion of one political dynasty — a daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy — and a onetime member of another, as the former wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Her 85-year-old mother, Ethel Kennedy, attended the trial daily. Nearly a dozen other members of the famous family came by, including three brothers, two sisters, a sister-in-law and three daughters.

Laurence Leamer, who has written three books about the Kennedys, said: “The Kennedys are very loyal to each other in a crisis. … It’s one of the most admirable things about them.” He said there’s no way to gauge the effect on the jury, but “Kennedys or not, it’s Defense 101 to have family members sitting there for the jury to see.”

Tobe Berkovitz, a political media consultant and professor of advertising at Boston University, said: “The Kennedys saw this as a DA overreaching, making a big case out of a silly mistake. So they absolutely played every Camelot trump card they had in the deck. They had the family. They had questions about her losing her father as a young girl.”

He added, “When the legacy is being challenged, they all step up and fight.”

The trial drew so much attention that it was moved from a small-town courtroom to the county courthouse in White Plains.

After four days of testimony, a six-person jury took a little over an hour to find Kennedy not guilty of driving while impaired.

Kennedy, 54, had been arrested in 2012 after swerving into a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway and failing sobriety tests. She testified that she had accidentally taken a sleeping pill instead of her daily thyroid medication that morning and had no memory of the wild ride on the highway.

“If I realized I was impaired, I would have pulled over,” Kennedy told the jury.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Kennedy unintentionally took the drug, zolpidem, but they told jurors she had to have known she was impaired and should have stopped driving.

When the jury forewoman read the verdict, Kennedy smiled broadly, hugged one attorney and clasped hands with another. Her family and friends applauded.

The charge was a misdemeanor that rarely goes to trial, but Kennedy was unwilling to settle the case and two judges refused to dismiss it.

Her family’s storied and sorrow-filled history crept into the trial when Lefcourt asked about her upbringing and her work as president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Kennedy testified that while she was growing up, the family lived near Washington because, “Daddy was the attorney general.”

“My mother raised us because my father died when I was 8,” she said. “He was killed when he was running for president.”

Kennedy’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, then told jurors in his

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Lawyers say NY DA should have dropped Kennedy case

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Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, third from left, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of driving while impaired. after she accidentally took a sleeping pill on July 13, 2012 and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Kerry Kennedy, second from left, walks with her mother, Ethel Kennedy, right, as she leaves the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan) NYC OUT, NO SALES, ONLINE OUT, TV OUT, NEWSDAY INTERNET OUT; MAGS OUT

Kerry Kennedy arrives at the Westchester County Courthouse prior to her acquittal in her drugged-driving case, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan)

Kerry Kennedy talks to reporters after leaving the Westchester County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive in July, 2012, she said she didn’t remember. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan)

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Kerry Kennedy’s high-priced lawyers made sure the jurors deciding her drugged-driving case knew all about her famous family.

But after winning a quick acquittal Friday, they said she should have been treated like “Mary Housewife.” It was the prosecutors who gave her special treatment, they said, by refusing to drop the case.

The district attorney’s office denied the accusation. And Kennedy herself said she wasn’t angry about being put on trial.

A human-rights advocate, Kennedy is a scion of one political dynasty — a daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy — and a onetime member of another, as the former wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Her 85-year-old mother, Ethel Kennedy, attended the trial daily. Nearly a dozen other members of the famous family came by, including three brothers, two sisters, a sister-in-law and three daughters.

Laurence Leamer, who has written three books about the Kennedys, said: “The Kennedys are very loyal to each other in a crisis. … It’s one of the most admirable things about them.” He said there’s no way to gauge the effect on the jury, but “Kennedys or not, it’s Defense 101 to have family members sitting there for the jury to see.”

Tobe Berkovitz, a political media consultant and professor of advertising at Boston University, said: “The Kennedys saw this as a DA overreaching, making a big case out of a silly mistake. So they absolutely played every Camelot trump card they had in the deck. They had the family. They had questions about her losing her father as a young girl.”

He added, “When the legacy is being challenged, they all step up and fight.”

The trial drew so much attention that it was moved from a small-town courtroom to the county courthouse in White Plains.

After four days of testimony, a six-person jury took a little over an hour to find Kennedy not guilty of driving while impaired.

Kennedy, 54, had been arrested in 2012 after swerving into a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway and failing sobriety tests. She testified that she had accidentally taken a sleeping pill instead of her daily thyroid medication that morning and had no memory of the wild ride on the highway.

“If I realized I was impaired, I would have pulled over,” Kennedy told the jury.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Kennedy unintentionally took the drug, zolpidem, but they told jurors she had to have known she was impaired and should have stopped driving.

When the jury forewoman read the verdict, Kennedy smiled broadly, hugged one attorney and clasped hands with another. Her family and friends applauded.

The charge was a misdemeanor that rarely goes to trial, but Kennedy was unwilling to settle the case and two judges refused to dismiss it.

Her family’s storied and sorrow-filled history crept into the trial when Lefcourt asked about her upbringing and her work as president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Kennedy testified that while she was growing up, the family lived near Washington because, “Daddy was the attorney general.”

“My mother raised us because my father died when I was 8,” she said. “He was killed when he was running for president.”

Kennedy’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, then told jurors in his

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