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DelVal Rep to Present Krasner Impeachment Case to Senate

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) was among the representatives chosen to present the impeachment case against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to the state Senate.

Williams said he believes he was chosen because of his background as a prosecutor.

“I am a former assistant U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia and Denver,” said Williams. “The former chief prosecutor of the Marine Corp Reserves, former chief prosecutor of the largest and busiest Marine base.”

Rep. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler), another representative chosen as an impeachment manager, also has a prosecutorial background as an assistant district attorney.

Williams said though a trial date has not been set he is already preparing to present the seven articles of impeachment against Krasner to the Senate. Removal from office would require a two-thirds majority vote.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler also named Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) as the third impeachment manager.

“These members exemplify the competency and character required in this moment,” Cutler said. “Their credibility cannot be understated, and each of their diverse experiences and education will help ensure this process is treated with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness. This trial must be transparent and presented at the highest possible standard, something this committee is more than capable of doing.”

After an investigation, the House voted largely along party lines to impeach Krasner, finding that he has not fulfilled his duties as a prosecutor in the wake of rising crime in Philadelphia. The vote concluded a months-long investigation by a House Select Committee examining the city’s recent surge in violence and what role Krasner’s conduct may have played. The committee heard heartbreaking testimony from witnesses who accused Krasner of not seeking justice for crime victims, even as homicides, shootings, and carjackings soared.

Krasner Impeached! Philly D.A. to Face Trial in Senate

In a 107-85 vote, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D). The seven articles of impeachment are now going to the Senate for trial.

The vote concluded a months-long investigation by a House Select Committee examining the city’s recent surge in violence and what role Krasner’s conduct may have played. The committee heard heartbreaking testimony from witnesses who accused Krasner of not seeking justice for crime victims, even as homicides, shootings, and carjackings soared.

Krasner is a former defense lawyer, whose progressive policies align with a group of other district attorneys whose campaigns were funded by money from Democrat megadonor George Soros. When the articles were introduced by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) last month, he called it “devastating to democracy and it shows how far toward fascism the Republican Party is creeping.”

White said the House had no choice.

“The information that was contained in the most recent preliminary report was so egregious to me I felt compelled to drop these articles of impeachment,” she said, referencing an interim report that outlined findings but did not include a recommendation of impeachment. “Mr. Krasner has proven himself derelict in his duties as the District Attorney of Philadelphia by inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public’s interest.”

The seven articles introduced as amendments by Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams) list instances of “misbehavior in office,” ranging from the initial refusal to comply with the House Select Committee’s subpoenas to misleading both judges and crime victims in some cases. Another alleges Krasner made some crimes, like prostitution, theft, and drug offenses, “de facto legal” by refusing to prosecute them.

Unlike the most recent impeachment by the Pennsylvania House, when Justice Rolf Larsen was removed from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1994 following a conviction on criminal conspiracy charges related to prescription drugs, there is no criminal charge associated with the articles being sent to the Senate.

The votes were largely along party lines, with Rep. Mike Puskaric (R-Allegheny) voting against adding the amendments and passing the resolution.

Democrats accused Republicans of attempting to undermine an election held in Philadelphia. They also warned the impeachment would create a dangerous precedent. Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) provided some context from his days working in the District Attorney’s Office under Seth Williams (D). He referenced his high caseloads and all the different circumstances that could prevent convictions.

“The truth is prosecuting crimes in one of the largest cities in the country is a complex task with a never-ending parade of challenges,” he said. “There’s a myriad of factors that affect the outcome of every single criminal case…These articles attempt to pin the entirety of fault and blame on a single man for the challenges in a sprawling and endlessly complex criminal justice system.”

Following the vote, Krasner released a statement via Twitter. “Philadelphians’ votes, and Philadelphia voters, should not be erased. History will harshly judge this anti-democratic authoritarian effort to erase Philly’s votes – votes by Black, brown, and broke people in Philadelphia. And voters will have the last word.”

Krasner won re-election by a wide margin in an election with an extremely low turnout. White noted only 7.6 percent of the total population voted for Krasner in last November’s election.

Conviction and removal from office would require 34 guilty votes in a Senate with just 28 Republicans. If Krasner is convicted, he would be just the second person impeached and removed from office in the legislature’s 340-year history.

House Judiciary Committee Votes to Forward Krasner Impeachment Charges

The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday 14-8 along party lines, with three members not voting, to send impeachment charges against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to the full chamber for a vote.

The vote came after a House Select Committee investigation of the district attorney’s actions since taking office in January 2018. The interim reports raised serious questions about the progressive prosecutor’s policies but did not include a formal recommendation to impeach.

Several Delaware Valley representatives played key roles in Tuesday’s vote.

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), who submitted the impeachment articles last month, laid out her case to the Committee before the vote.

“Since taking his oath of office, Mr. Krasner has chosen not to exercise his responsibilities as district attorney with fidelity,” she said. “Rather Mr. Krasner has engaged in misbehavior in office and obstruction. Mr. Krasner has proven himself derelict in his duties as district attorney in Philadelphia, inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public interest by consistently dropping charges against repeat offenders, refusing to prosecute certain crimes outright, while also withdrawing and dismissing charges under the Uniform Firearms Act at an abnormally high rate.”

White maintained Krasner’s actions, and their contribution to soaring crime in the city, established the “misconduct” element required to pursue impeachment.

Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) opposed the move to impeach. He told his fellow committee members about the murder of his brother when Dawkins was 13. Instead of castigating the district attorney at the time (Lynne Abraham) for the crime, he accused the General Assembly of not providing adequate resources to communities like his, echoing Krasner’s arguments about rising crime in Philadelphia.

“There is a dereliction of duty among all of us if this is how we’re going to proceed if we’re stating that these crimes in Philadelphia are caused by the lack of effort, or lack of movement, or lack of any of these things that we are holding him accountable to,” Dawkins said. “We can look to some of the root causes that we have talked about in our Philadelphia delegation platform, when we talk about poverty, talk about all the things that come out of poverty, of why some of these young people are making these very, very bad decisions.”

Dawkins’ attempt to table the impeachment charges until a hearing could be held to examine the report and discuss the circumstances surrounding Philadelphia’s crime surges failed by a 14-8 vote, with three members not voting.

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Horsham) was one of the non-votes. Stephens could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) called Krasner “woefully inadequate as a leader in the city,” and he called out the district attorney for inadequate training of front-line prosecutors as well as his “failure to provide effective, efficient and predictable enforcement of gun-related offenses.”

However, he opposed impeachment and urged the committee to follow legal precedent, which has never impeached an elected official, nor has ever done so without specific criminal charges. He compared the attempt to impeach Krasner to Republicans’ attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

White rebuffed the argument that impeachment was a violation of the democratic process. “It’s been said that ‘elections have consequences,’ absolutely,” she said, “Who oversees the district attorney in Philadelphia? We do. We’re the only body that can take action to impact this man for what he has done to our city.”

Krasner was given the opportunity to testify before the House Select Committee investigating his tenure but refused the closed-door hearing offered in October. Instead, he took to the Capitol steps, accusing Republicans of a politically-motivated witch hunt and insisted the vote on his fate would occur before the midterm elections.

Following the vote, White told reporters she expected the full chamber vote to happen Wednesday. She also expects bipartisan support for the impeachment articles, as the House had bipartisan support for a contempt charge earlier in the year after the district attorney’s office refused to comply with subpoenas and requests from the House Select Committee. Instead, the district attorney sued to challenge the committee’s validity in Commonwealth Court.

DelVal Reacts to Krasner Impeachment Resolution

For Philadelphia’s Martina White, filing articles of impeachment against her city’s district attorney is not about Larry Krasner. It is about crime victims.

“Our people have suffered for long enough and his policies have pretty much destroyed our city,” the Republican state representative told DVJournal Wednesday, just hours after announcing the impeachment articles were being filed. And, she said, she saw no reason to wait for the Select Committee process to run its course.

“Earlier this week I took note of a report that was issued by the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order that described egregious misbehavior and conduct by Larry Krasner’s office and himself,” said White. “So, I just felt compelled to move forward with this. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to wait any longer. Our people have suffered for long enough and his policies have pretty much destroyed our city.”

Mike Chitwood

While the investigation is ongoing, “I just feel compelled to move forward because there are instances of repeated disregard of victims on sentencing matters, such as in the case of Lisa Hart-Newman, who was left to freeze to death as an infant at the scene of her parents’ murders,” said White.

The district attorney’s office never contacted Newman before going before a judge “to advocate on behalf of her parents’ murderer. The staggering amount of dysfunction that has come to light from untrained staff, from top to bottom being too inexperienced to successfully try cases,” said White.

“They have a lack of institutional knowledge on basic courtroom procedures, and it’s led to disastrous results. I mean, we have high levels of withdrawals, dismissals basically, criminals are walking free.”

Retired police officer Mike Chitwood said the impeachment move is good news for area law enforcement. Chitwood, who served 19 years as a Philadelphia officer before becoming police superintendent for Upper Darby, told DVJournal the officers working with this district attorney are very disheartened.

“The morale in the Philadelphia Police Department is zero to none,” said Chitwood. “That’s how bad it is, not only because of Krasner in there but because of the lack of support that they themselves receive from the (Kenney) administration.”

Asked whether Philadelphia voters, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, would just elect another progressive ideologue, Chitwood said, “Here is what really, really galls me, when he ran for reelection and won, where were the voters? Why did they vote him in?”

“He has allowed criminals to run the system. He has allowed criminals to run Philadelphia. And he has allowed criminals to do whatever they do without consequences. Period. That’s exactly what he’s done,” Chitwood added.

And, says White, it is not just voters and legislators upset by Krasner’s performance. Judges have noticed, too.

“Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott actually called the office’s prosecutors incompetent,” said White. And Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, a Philadelphia native, issued a scathing opinion blasting the district attorney’s handling of a case.

Asked what was next, White said it would go to the House Judiciary Committee, then to the full House for a vote. After that the Senate would then have a trial, she said.

“The Speaker, I believe just put on another day (on the House calendar) for us to be able to facilitate running this impeachment article out of the House and get it over to the Senate,” White said.

Krasner had tried to stonewall the committee, she said. But after the House found him to be in contempt he turned over some materials.

Krasner pushed back against the impeachment, accusing the Republican-led House of political grandstanding, since it is shortly before the midterm elections, and also of racism.

White denied those contentions.

“This is specifically regarding public safety and had he not been a bad actor and misbehaving in his duties and responsibilities to the public and to do what’s in the public’s interest, he wouldn’t be going through this,” she said. And as for racism, “I would say it’s a fallacy, it’s a distraction from what is actually happening before our own eyes.

“Black and Brown people are dying on our streets and the district attorney standing there watching it and saying that we don’t have a crisis of crime.”


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House Select Committee Releases Report on Krasner Impeachment Hearings

No impeachment for Larry Krasner before the midterm elections.

That was the news as the House Select Committee investigating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) released a second interim report Monday.

The 63-page report details the results of dozens of interviews and documents reviewed by the committee. It also describes the persistent resistance from Krasner, who sued the General Assembly in August in Commonwealth Court over the validity of the committee. His initial refusal to testify led to a bipartisan vote in the House to hold the district attorney in contempt. The report noted Krasner submitted a six-page letter to satisfy the testimony request.

“Rather than collaborate with the Select Committee, the DAO and DA Krasner have put up roadblocks at every turn, even filing frivolous litigation against the Select Committee and its members,” the report’s executive summary reads in part. “DA Krasner’s repeated and ongoing obstruction of the Select Committee’s investigation no doubt speaks to his failure to integrate and effectuate his progressive policies with any success—as an office, in failing to be a collaborative partner with other public safety stakeholders, and as a voice for victims, in failing to competently and successfully prosecute violent criminals.”

As the report details, the district attorney’s office was the only one of six Philadelphia offices to refuse to submit requested documents following August subpoenas. That included the offices of the mayor, sheriff, city controller, and police department. Instead, Krasner filed the lawsuit that remains pending.

The rise in crime in Philadelphia has happened alongside lower prosecution rates. According to the district attorney’s office data, 30 percent of “all offenses” were withdrawn or dismissed in 2016. That number rose to 67 percent last year. And 21 percent of firearm cases were nolle prossed or withdrawn after initial charges were filed in 2021, up from 10 percent in 2016. Groups like the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, which created two studies for the PPD as part of its response to the investigation, have noticed the decrease in convictions has altered the mindset of those arrested.

“This implies that, even when criminals are caught with a gun, they are swiftly finding out they may not receive as significant a consequence as they had historically,” their findings read in part. “Notably, the likelihood of being arrested is low to begin with. This means that criminals know that their likelihood of getting caught with a gun is slim and, even if they get caught, they feel that they can leave without severe (or any) consequences.”

Matching a theme found through public testimony in September, the report cited interviews reporting that Krasner was not just reorganizing his office under his vision, but he ignored decades of previous best practices and seemingly alienating partners, notably police officers. In addition to changing rules on bail requests and creating a list of officers not to call as witnesses at trial, Krasner instructed the reduction or dismissal of certain charges when they would affect a defendant’s immigration status, especially when relating to illegal immigrants. The report also details the amount and level of criticism the DAO has received from federal and commonwealth judges.

In a statement following the report’s release, Chairman John Lawrence (R-Chester) said the work was not done. A final report will likely come out before the House’s term ends this fall.

“Today’s report is by no means a conclusion of the committee’s work,” Lawrence’s statement reads in part. “The investigation into the historic crime and violence in Philadelphia and recommendations for possible solutions will continue in earnest over the coming weeks.”

Krasner’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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Select Committee to Courts: Stay Out of Krasner Case

Butt out.

That was the message from the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court regarding filings from District Attorney Larry Krasner requesting protection from their subpoenas.

“Even if the Court were inclined to preemptively address Petitioners’ claims, the claims fail as a matter of law because (i) the Select Committee is empowered to conduct investigations, including investigating civil offices and officials such as the District Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Krasner, and, under separation of powers principles, a court should not interfere with such investigations,” the committee wrote in a Thursday filing.

The dispute began with Krasner’s attorneys asking a judge to quash the subpoena and issue a protective order that would protect the progressive district attorney from “any additional contempt proceedings as well as unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden or expense.”

The Krasner’s attorneys fear lawmakers could enforce the contempt finding by possibly having him arrested, and they denounced the entire impeachment effort as “political gamesmanship,”  the records show. Krasner says he has already turned over hundreds of pages of records, many of them already publicly available, on how his office operates on policies of crime, bail, probation, parole, and reducing the jail population.

But he has so far refused to turn over the grand jury transcripts and the investigative case file for Ryan Pownall, a Philadelphia police officer awaiting trial for the on-duty 2017 shooting of David Jones. That document request was a part of the committee’s August 9 subpoena.

Turning over those files would violate state law requiring such records be kept confidential and could “undermine” the prosecution of Pownall, who is set to go on trial in November, “and future defendants as well,” Krasner’s attorney’s claimed.

The district attorney’s legal team suggested those documents are outside of the scope of the House’s resolution, which focused on Philadelphia’s rising crime rates, crime victims, public funding for prosecuting those crimes, and helping victims of gun violence.

Krasner’s office has also fought lawmakers on providing a so-called “privilege log” of withheld documents, calling that request “unduly burdensome.”

“To date, the Select Committee has not provided any legal authority for its request for grand jury materials and the DAO’s ‘complete case file’ in a pending case,” Krasner’s attorney, John Summers wrote. The DAO cannot and will not break the law in order to comply with the Select Committee’s (improper) subpoena.”

The committee rejected those arguments in its filing to the court.

“The subpoena expressly states that it does not call for the production of any privileged documents,” the committee wrote. “Moreover, Petitioners do not allege that they have produced privileged documents or a log asserting any privileges.

“In short, the petition seeks to protect ‘privileged’ documents that have not been requested and prevent a legislative action that has not occurred.”

The latest court salvo comes after the impeachment of Krasner took center stage last week.

Committee members heard testimony from witnesses on how Krasner alleged “soft on crime” policies have hampered public safety in crime-plagued Philadelphia and data advocates that showed the overall conviction for certain gun offenses was at 77 percent, down from the statewide average of 83 percent.

The city set a record in 2021 with 562 homicides and has already tallied another 416 in 2022.

“Krasner’s office has failed us,” said Karen McConnell, who was one of several relatives of homicide victims who shared their stories to lawmakers on the first day of the hearing at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

She lost her granddaughter, Jailene Holton, in June after a man fired 15 shots into the Philly Bar and Restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia and blamed the progressive district attorney for “pacifying these criminals.”

Krasner has maintained that he hasn’t committed an impeachable offense, as outlined by the state constitution, and that lawmakers are targeting him because they disagree with his policies.

Progressive district attorneys in other states have faced similar backlash, and his supporters staged their disapproval of the hearings with a fake “circus” outside, complete with jugglers and clowns.

Krasner’s legal team said it asked lawmakers to withdraw its initial subpoena request and issue “a new one that does not demand improper materials” but the committee refused to do so.

It voted last month to hold the district attorney in contempt while the current lawsuit was pending before the court.

Meanwhile, the committee insists that whatever the outcome, it is a fight between the legislature and Krasner and should not involve the judiciary.

“Petitioners ask the court to substitute its judgment for the General Assembly’s judgment with regard to the select committee’s ongoing investigation regarding the rising rates of crime, the enforcement of criminal laws, and the enforcement of crime victims’ rights in the City of Philadelphia and consideration of the potential impeachment of District Attorney Krasner,” the committee said.

“Such relief would violate the separation of powers doctrine and Petitioners’ claims are, therefore, nonjusticiable.”


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‘Krasner Failed Us:’ Emotional Testimony From Crime Victims Sets Tone at Hearing

“Krasner’s office has failed us.”

That was the testimony of Karen McConnell on the first day of the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order hearing at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Thursday. While the topic was the crime crisis, the target was progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner.

McConnell lost her granddaughter, Jailene Holton, in June after a man fired 15 shots into the Philly Bar and Restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia. She blamed the district attorney for “pacifying these criminals” who, because of his policies, evaded punishment on prior charges. McConnell was one of several family members of homicide victims who shared their stories with state representatives conducting the hearing.

Krasner and his allies dismissed the bipartisan committee’s investigation as a political stunt. Krasner allies mocked the proceedings by staging a fake “circus” outside, complete with jugglers and clowns. Republicans were outraged.

“This is the kind of respect the supporters of DA Krasner believe victims of violent crime and their families testifying today deserve,” said House GOP spokesperson Jason Gottesman. “This is grotesque and shameful. As tears are shed in today’s hearing over loss of life, Krasner’s supporters are throwing a party. Sickening.”

Supporters of Larry Krasner stage a mock “circus” to protest the House Select Committee Hearing on Restoring Law and Order.

And though the testimony was sometimes emotional, in the committee hearing there were few political fireworks. Rep. John Lawrence (R-West Grove) kept the hearing civil and focused on the testimony. “If you’re expecting simple-minded mudslinging, you will be disappointed.”

In his opening statement, Lawrence avoided rhetoric and instead told how his parents met in the city, attended Temple University, and eventually started a family.

“I would not be here without the story of Philadelphia,” he said. He added, “It would be a dereliction of duty if we did not take action,” and then laid an account of the rising crime and environment of lawlessness on the city’s streets.

“The increase in crime has led to a decline in the quality of life in the city, the regional impact to surrounding areas, and, of course, lifetimes of pain for those who have lost a family member to senseless criminal activity,” said Lawrence.

The four-member committee heard more than an hour of testimony from crime victims and family members of those who lost their lives to criminals. They testified about being discouraged by the slow pace of justice in their cases. Some claimed they did their own investigative work to find information overlooked by police. Others lamented poor communication from city prosecutors assigned to their cases. Longtime residents said their neighborhoods are overrun by emboldened criminals, pointing to suspects who either were arrested and released or had their charges dismissed. Either way, they said, the bad guys were back on the street.

And they blamed Krasner.

Nakisha Billa, who lost her son Domonic in March 2021 in a shooting at the Franklin Mills Mall, said the information provided by the CARES program was not helpful and she had to track down city victims’ services herself. Her testimony echoed a familiar refrain from victims’ families that the District Attorney’s office under Krasner has not put enough resources or attention to those families, she insisted that her testimony was without political motive or invective.

In an exchange with Rep. Amen Brown (D-Philadelphia), Billa said she wanted to leave the city, despite having lived here all her life and Philadelphia still being home to her family and support system.

A particularly poignant moment came when Brown shared a conversation he had with a 100-year-old constituent who wanted him to clean up her block in West Philadelphia. For years she spent part of her day sitting on her porch but said fear of crime had now driven her indoors. “She told me, ‘I want to do it one more time before I pass,'” Brown said.

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), the city’s former GOP chair, shared her frustration with the lack of results and her compassion for the city’s victims of crime.

“Larry Krasner has denied these victims a voice,” she said. “He has tipped those scales of justice in favor of the criminals. It’s out of control and we have to do more about it. I’m really grateful that Harrisburg and specifically the members of this committee have come to Philadelphia to learn about what is happening here, firsthand.”

Questioned by a reporter about why Krasner had not been called as a witness, White said, “That is up to the committee. The D.A. has already been extremely disrespectful to the process. He’s ignored subpoenas and was held in contempt out in Harrisburg by a bipartisan majority in the House. It is really time that he pays attention to what the people of Philadelphia want. They want criminals held accountable and they want it to start now. We’re tired of waiting. We need safety and security on our streets.”

As of Wednesday, the city has 401 homicides in 2022 while carjacking eclipsed 1,000 for the first time in history.  And though gun possession arrests have drastically increased recently, conviction rates — the share of cases prosecuted by the district attorney’s office that result in a conviction — for gun possession declined. Between 2015 and 2020, the share of illegal gun possession cases resulting in conviction fell from 65 percent to 42 percent, according to the city controller.

Billa compared the constant reporting on crime statistics to coverage of the score during a basketball game. “Only this is not a game, and I’m tired of losing.”


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Philly DA Plays Defense As House Committee Seeks Info

Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney, is fighting subpoenas from the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee investigating the impacts of his progressive policies on the city’s skyrocketing crime rate.

And Krasner’s lawyers also object to those subpoenas because they “don’t serve a proper legislative purpose” and “violate the separation of powers.” In a letter to the committee, the attorneys claim committee members “seek to deny the constitutional rights of Philadelphia citizens.” Krasner has twice been elected to his position.

The lawyers accuse Republicans of trying to raise their profiles with their base by pursuing Democrat Krasner and disputed that there were any grounds for impeachment, only “policy differences.”

“Indeed, no official has been impeached for policy differences like those that are the subject of the Select Committee and its Subpoena. Whether the House Republicans driving the impeachment effort like it or not, the citizens of Philadelphia have spoken at the polls; it is not up to House Republicans to try to effectively overturn that election.”

The Select Committee includes Philadelphia Democratic Reps. Amen Brown and Danilo Burgos.

In the heavily Democratic city, Krasner was easily reelected in the 2021 primary against Carlos Vega, when the off-year turnout was 20.1 percent.

As of Aug. 22, there were 350 homicides in the city, up one percent from the same time last year. In 2021 there were 562 homicides in Philadelphia. Rarely does a day pass when residents turn on the television news without hearing about a new shooting.

State Sen. Jake Corman, who first called for Krasner’s impeachment when he was running for governor in the Republican primary, the House didn’t act at that time. In June, Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) brought local crime victims for a rally at the capitol, which spurred her colleagues to begin an investigation that may lead to Krasner’s impeachment.

“He has been coddling criminals rather than holding them accountable for their actions,” White said. By not prosecuting crime, Krasner has “violated his oath of office,” she added. “The proof is overwhelming. The impact on our communities is devastating. Lives are lost and our citizens are living in fear.”

“Since the beginning of the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians, business owners, and families who are fed up with the absolute lawlessness in Philadelphia,” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) when announcing the impeachment inquiry.

Krasner is not the only progressive prosecutor whose soft-on-crime policies have drawn ire. This summer San Francisco voters ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin. However, a bid to recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon fell short after a committee struck signatures from petitions.

Krasner, one of numerous progressive district attorneys who were elected around the country, often with the help of deep-pocketed outside funding, was the subject of a PBS documentary “Philly D.A.”

When Krasner spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal in May 2021, he blamed increasing homicides and other violent crimes that were spiking on the COVID-19 pandemic. But others see his policies, including lax enforcement of gun laws, as the root cause of burgeoning crime in the city.

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), a former assistant federal prosecutor, worked with White to write legislation to form a gun crime task force for Philadelphia and also extend a law that gives the state attorney general jurisdiction over gun crimes in the city. Attorney General Josh Shapiro allowed a previous version of that law to expire without using it. His office worked with Williams and White on the latest bill, HB 2275, which passed the House and is now pending in the Senate judiciary committee.  Shapiro is now the Democratic candidate for governor.

“Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has said publically on a number of occasions that he believes a prior felon in possession of a gun is simply a possession case, which he is not inclined to prosecute,” said Williams. “You can still prosecute these cases in the United States Attorney’s Office.”

Last year’s budget included an additional $3 million to hire more gun prosecutors in the Philadelphia and Delaware County District Attorney’s offices “who will become special assistants U.S. Attorneys,” he said.

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PA Supreme Court Justice Excoriates Krasner, Alleges Abuse of Grand Jury Process

A justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court published a “special concurrence” Wednesday morning excoriating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and the conduct of his office regarding the case of a Philadelphia officer who shot and killed a man who fled from a traffic stop.

The nineteen-page filing by Justice Kevin M. Dougherty is a stunning rebuke of Krasner and his methods and comes just as an impeachment effort against the progressive prosecutor has found its footing in Harrisburg.

A request for comment to Krasner’s office from Broad + Liberty was not returned. DAO spokeswoman Jane Roh told the Inquirer that the office would not be commenting on the findings.

Justice Dougherty alleges Krasner lacked candor through many portions of the proceedings, and that he manipulated the grand jury process in unethical ways.

Former PPD officer Ryan Pownall fatally shot David Jones in 2017, when Pownall confronted the man for riding a dirt bike on a city street.

Krasner has since used the case in an attempt to completely overhaul the long-used understanding of Pennsylvania law as to what constitutes the legal use of deadly force by officers.

Judge Dougherty had previously expressed some skepticism about the case, but fully unburdened himself with the Wednesday filing. His writing focused less on the deadly use-of-force issue at play in the actual incident involving Pownall, and focused more about the tactics employed by Krasner and his fellow prosecutors.

“A special concurrence is unusual. But so is the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (‘DAO’) prosecution in this case. That is why I feel compelled to write separately, unconstrained by majority authorship, to pull back the curtain on some of the concerning irregularities that lurk just beneath the surface of this appeal,” Dougherty wrote.

Justice Dougherty, who has roots in Philadelphia, began by noting that officer-involved shootings erode the trust of the judicial system in the community, but also noted that prosecutors must treat all actors in the court equally and fairly.

“Yet, here, I cannot say the DAO has treated Pownall fairly and equally,” Dougherty said.

“At least three aspects of the DAO’s prosecution give me serious pause: (1) its failure to provide the investigating grand jury with all relevant legal definitions; (2) its successful attempt to deny Pownall a preliminary hearing; and (3) its relentless but unsuccessful attempt to change the peace officer justification law prior to Pownall’s trial.”

The first problem, Dougherty wrote, “implicates a potential abuse of the grand jury process.” According to Pownall’s attorneys, Kranser’s office “intentionally failed to notify the grand jury of the peace officer justification defense,” a part of Pennsylvania law that allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force in certain situations. Krasner believes that law is contradicted by federal law, but that has not yet been held to be the case in Pennsylvania.

A further abuse, Dougherty says, is that having presented the grand jury with only a partial picture of the law they are meant to enforce, Krasner secured an indictment and then unsealed it and released it to the media. “Not surprisingly, multiple news sources reported on the presentment’s one-sided account, with some even making the full document available online for anyone and everyone to read.”

That offense was compounded, Dougherty wrote, with Krasner’s office’s next misstep in denying Pownall a preliminary hearing. “Theoretically, that error could have been remedied by adherence to one of the statutory safeguards embedded in the process: the requirement that ‘the defendant shall be entitled to a preliminary hearing.’ What is troubling is the DAO’s effort to ensure that would not occur.”

Dougherty wrote that the record in the case suggests that this was no mere mistake: “Remarkably,” he wrote, “the DAO appears to have known all this at the time it filed its motion.”

For the third and final issue described by Dougherty, he faults Krasner for “The DAO’s lack of candor with respect to its underlying constitutional claim; and (2) the questionable timing of the motion’s filing and subsequent appeal.”

Dougherty noted that the DAO’s motion in limine — which essentially means a motion outside of the jury’s presence and is often used as a method to exclude evidence that can be presented to a jury — presented “only half the relevant picture.”

“This type of advocacy would be worrisome coming from any litigant…That it was the prosecution’s doing is even more concerning, particularly in light of the motion’s timing[.]”

Dougherty concluded that, “[w]hen combined with the other tactics highlighted throughout this concurrence, a compelling argument may be made that the DAO’s decision to delay Pownall’s trial further by taking an unauthorized interlocutory appeal was intended to deprive him of a fair and speedy trial.”

The sheer scope of the rebuke, combined with the fact it comes from a Democratic Justice on the state’s highest court will no doubt be noticed by Harrisburg Republicans who are campaigning to impeach Krasner for dereliction of duty.

Dougherty, the brother of former IBEW boss Johnny Dougherty, was first elected to the court in 2015.

This is a developing story, and Broad + Liberty expects to add updates later in the day.

Kyle Sammin contributed to this report.

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty

PA House GOP Committee to Investigate Progressive DA Krasner

Pennsylvania Republican House members are stepping up their impeachment process against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution creating the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order. The resolution, announced by Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) as part of the ongoing effort to impeach Krasne, now goes to the full House for consideration.

It comes after Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) invited crime victims to come to the capital and tell their stories. Several family members spoke passionately about their loved ones who were murdered in the city, and about their dissatisfaction with the district attorney.

White also blasted Krasner over the city’s crime rate. Violent crime in Philadelphia has increased dramatically since he took office in 2018. Krasner, a progressive Democrat, has espoused an approach that includes dropping gun charges against some defendants and not prosecuting minor crimes. The number of shooting incidents in Philadelphia is up over 7 percent, and the number of shooting victims is up almost 5 percent over last year.

“Since the beginning of the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians, business owners, and families who are fed up with the absolute lawlessness in Philadelphia,” Kail said.

“While DA Krasner has been transparent in his willful dereliction of duty to enforce the law and should be removed from office, it is imperative the House takes a comprehensive approach to holding Philadelphia officials accountable with a full airing of the facts, a comprehensive record, and vetted recommendations as we move forward to ensure state law is respected and enforced in our largest city,” he said.

According to the resolution, the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will consist of five members selected by the Speaker of the House—three Republicans and two Democrats—and have subpoena power.

Those members will be appointed after the resolution passes, officials said.

The committee will examine the effect Krasner’s alleged failure to enforce criminal laws in Philadelphia, how state public safety funding for Philadelphia has been used, and whether victims’ rights are properly protected, officials said.

In addition to impeachment and other methods of removal from office, the committee is also empowered to recommend potential legislative or policy changes that could ensure public safety is guaranteed.

“The problem of unchecked crime and violence in Philadelphia is a statewide concern requiring strong and deliberate state action,” Kail added.

“The investigative Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will take a deep dive into this issue and offer real remedies to ensure local officials like Larry Krasner are held accountable for their refusal to enforce state law and our cities are once again safe,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Krasner did not respond to a request for comment. However, Krasner’s defenders, including Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), noted Philadelphia voters have elected him twice.

“We can’t go backwards,” Kenyatta said on Facebook. “We have a DA who cares about justice, safety, and accountability. We can’t elect someone who would take us the other way. I’m proud to support Larry Krasner for DA because he’s unabashedly led the charge (to) reform a broken system by building a big winning coalition.”

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