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Kennedy NY defense says treat her like anyone else

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JIM FITZGERALD | April 9, 2013 06:33 PM EST | AP

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A defense lawyer in Kerry Kennedy's drugged-driving case complained Tuesday that prosecutors want the court to be tougher on her than on ordinary defendants because she's a Kennedy.

In papers filed in North Castle Town Court, attorney Gerald Lefcourt said prosecutors "are asking that Ms. Kennedy be held to a higher standard and treated more harshly because of her family name and purported wealth and notoriety."

Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is seeking dismissal of the charge.

She was arrested in July after her Lexus swerved into a tractor-trailer on Interstate 684 in North Castle, near her home in Bedford, 35 miles north of New York City. Police reported she failed sobriety tests and was slurring her speech.

Tests found a small amount of the sleeping drug zolpidem in Kennedy's blood. She said she believes she accidentally took a sleeping pill instead of her daily thyroid medication.

The defense has asked Town Justice Elyse Lazansky to dismiss the case on the grounds that Kennedy took the pill accidentally and the only damage done was to her pride and her famous name.

However, the Westchester district attorney's office filed papers last week in favor of a trial, saying, among other claims, that a dismissal "would feed a public perception that people of wealth and privilege are treated differently than others."

Lefcourt said Tuesday in his papers, "The prosecution's reference to her `wealth and privilege' is offensive and unnecessary. Indeed, it is totally irrelevant. ... Ms. Kennedy's name and perceived wealth and status should not be a consideration whatsoever."

"We want her to be treated like Mary Housewife," said another defense attorney, William Aronwald, in a telephone interview.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for District Attorney Janet DiFiore, declined to comment.

A decision on the motion to dismiss is expected next month.