Impeached Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is not out of the woods yet.
On Thursday impeachment managers state Reps. Craig Williams (R-Delaware/Chester) and Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler) said they are filing an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from the Commonwealth Court’s Dec. 30 decision.
Krasner appealed his impeachment to Commonwealth Court, raising three objections.
The Commonwealth Court rejected two of three objections but upheld a third, finding that the state Senate was not the venue to try Krasner because the allegations did not meet the standard of “misbehavior in office.” But the court did not hear the evidence against Krasner presented during his impeachment.
“The Commonwealth Court never discussed the facts laid out in the articles of impeachment,” said Bonner. Instead, the Commonwealth Court said, any action “must come through the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, mischaracterizing the true purpose of an impeachment proceeding.”
However, both the Senate and the Disciplinary Board could take action, he said.
Williams, a former federal and military prosecutor, explained that Krasner’s acts meet the definition of misbehavior in office.
“There was no analysis whatsoever (by the court),” said Williams. He then discussed Krasner’s handling of a 2017 police shooting case, saying it was a prime example of Krasner’s misbehavior in office. In that case, Krasner used a grand jury to bring charges against Officer Ryan Pownall, although an internal investigation found Pownall acted properly to defend his own life and that of others under state law.
Krasner withheld exculpatory evidence during the litigation, Williams said. When the state Supreme Court eventually reviewed the case, Justice Kevin Dougherty writing separately, excoriated the egregious misconduct by Krasner’s unlawful prosecution of Pownall. The trial court later confirmed this misconduct after hearings and a confrontation with the DA’s office. The case was eventually dismissed.
“In all my time as a prosecutor, I have never seen such deplorable conduct by someone charged with representing the safety and interests of the public,” Williams said. “Misleading the grand jury about the law; hiding that fact from the supervising judge; circumventing due process rights to a preliminary hearing to further hide misleading the grand jury; seeking impermissible appeal to the Supreme Court to retroactively make unlawful what was lawful when it was done; and concealing exculpatory evidence. All of these actions separately constitute misbehavior in office. Together, they are evidence of improper or corrupt motive in depriving Officer Pownall of his constitutional rights to liberty.”
During the impeachment process, the House heard from many crime victims who complained about their treatment by Krasner’s office. Krasner, a former defense lawyer, was twice elected as a progressive prosecutor, promising to bring social justice principles for defendants.
Krasner did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The Senate had set Jan. 18 as the date for the Krasner impeachment trial. However, faced with the Commonwealth Court ruling it put the trial on hold. Asked if the Senate still plans to try the Krasner impeachment case, a spokeswoman said it has a constitutional duty to do so.