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Williams Takes Swipe at Rival Copeland in Attorney General Race

State Rep. Craig Williams, a Republican running for attorney general, attacked one of his primary opponents, former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland, on Saturday.

Williams, who represents parts of Delaware and Chester Counties, is a former Marine who served as a federal prosecutor in Denver and Philadelphia. He was also the chief prosecutor for the U. S. Marine Corps, as well as a Joint Terrorism Task Force member and deputy counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Copeland, who lost to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer in 2019, was also a federal prosecutor.

Willaims tweeted Saturday morning: “U.S. Attorney @McSwainPA said he had evidence of election fraud that DOJ shut down. AG Bill Barr said that was not true. The President called McSwain a coward. Kat Copeland was Criminal Chief under McSwain and was responsible for prosecuting election fraud. She owes us the truth.”

After losing the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump blamed McSwain for not investigating allegations of election fraud in Pennsylvania. Later, when McSwain campaigned for governor in 2022, Trump told people not to vote for him in the primary.

“One person who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for governor,” Trump said at the time. “He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down. He knew what was happening and let it go.”

In that primary, Trump endorsed eventual nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who lost the general election to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).

During the 2022 campaign, McSwain wrote a letter to Trump saying then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr had told him not to investigate or prosecute claims of election fraud but to turn over any cases to Shapiro.

“As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations,” McSwain wrote to Trump. “Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities. I was also given a directive to pass along serious allegations to the state attorney general (Shapiro) for investigation — the same state attorney general who had already declared that you could not win.”

However, Barr said that was not true. He told The Washington Post: “Any suggestion that McSwain was told to stand down from investigating allegations of election fraud is false. It’s just false.” Barr added that the assertions “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”

Copeland could not immediately be reached for comment.

“For the other two campaigns, this party endorsement process has been about hiding their candidates from public debate and hard questions,” said Williams. “This is but one of the many hard questions Kat Copeland needs to answer. She was at the heart of this controversy, and she should tell us the truth.”

Republicans statewide are holding straw polls this weekend to indicate their pick in the attorney general’s race ahead of the party’s endorsement vote on Monday.

In addition to Williams and Copeland, York County DA David Sunday Jr. is also seeking the nomination. Sunday, who was the first to declare his candidacy last June, is believed to be the frontrunner.

On the Democratic side, candidates include Stollsteimer, state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), former auditor general Eugene DePasquale, former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. The state Democratic Party did not endorse any attorney general candidates at its December meeting.

The primary is on April 23.

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DelVal Rep. Craig Williams to Jump Into AG Race

State Rep. Craig Williams says Pennsylvania needs a Marine for attorney general. And he isn’t letting other GOP candidates keep him out of the race.

Williams, who has been widely viewed as a potential candidate for months, is expected to formally launch his campaign on Tuesday.

He is entering a crowded race with two Republicans already in the GOP primary — York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland — and at least five Democrats running as well. Sunday entered the race back in July and has been endorsed by the national Republican Attorneys General Association.

Asked why he was running when Sunday appears to have significant GOP establishment backing, Williams said it was because he could win the general election.

“Looking at the field that’s emerging for attorney general, I do not see or hear a narrative that’s going to win,” said Williams, 59. “And I’m absolutely determined to win this attorney general seat.

“I have the most breadth of experience,” said Williams, who represents parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. “I have run two times in 2020 and 2022 in the state House elections that nobody thought I could win because of the political climate, be it Trump or abortion. I worked my tail off, and I brought a narrative that was winning, which is one of public service, being a community-minded guy, and being a tenacious fighter. And those narratives brought me home to two victories.

“And I’m the only one who can win this race,” Williams added.

He is a former federal prosecutor who served in Colorado and Philadelphia. Williams also served in the Marine Corps for nearly three decades, flew 56 combat missions, was decorated for valor in battle, and retired as a colonel.

While in the Marines, he was a prosecutor and also worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Williams served as deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war on terror.

Williams has traveled to 30 Pennsylvania’s 67 counties so far to talk to people in a “soft launch” of his campaign.

“And I will tell you that my narrative of having been a nearly 30-year Marine Corps colonel, a combat veteran of Desert Storm, where I flew in the F-18, a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Colorado and Philadelphia, and deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs, there is nobody in this race with the experience and that wide (variety) of matters,” he said. “And when you couple that experience with the fact that we are living in unbelievably violent times, people want a combat Marine. People want somebody who is going to go out there and fight for them. And I’m hearing that in county after county. We need somebody that’s going to fight, and we need somebody that’s going to win.”

“Time and again, what I’m hearing is you’re the guy that can win,” said Williams.

As for Sunday’s early support, Williams said Sunday announced early because he does not have that much experience and needed to line up support to “deaden that blow” and put forth a storyline that “this decision is already made, and everyone else should just go away.”

“These same people that are throwing their support behind Dave Sunday have been losing campaigns for the last several years,” said Williams. “My campaign will be grassroots.

DVJournal asked Williams what he would do about violence since that is usually the purview of district attorneys, not the state attorney general.

“One thing I will do is go to the General Assembly and get authority for concurrent jurisdiction in these large cities where we’re seeing an escalation of gun violence,” said Williams. “I am the architect of the Gun Violence Task Force in Philadelphia, which gave the attorney General concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia. (former attorney general, now governor) Josh Shapiro chose not to use it…I will be mobilizing a task force into Philadelphia.”

“Philadelphia needs a combat Marine right now,” Williams added.

Another Delaware Valley candidate for attorney general is Delaware County Democrat District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. Williams is a strong Stollsteimer critic.

Asked about Stollsteimer touting his reduction of the population in the county prison inmate population by 30 percent and “decriminalizing” small amounts of marijuana, Williams scoffed.

“He cannot ‘decriminalize’ anything,” said Williams. “What he can do is decline to prosecute just like (Philadelphia DA) Larry Krasner. The contrast between me and Jack Stollsteimer could not be any bigger. Jack Stollsteimer is about emptying out the prisons and putting criminals back on the street. I’m making sure we take the fight to violent criminals by way of my prosecution background and my combat experience. And Jack Stollsteimer is going to selectively choose which crimes he does and doesn’t prosecute. That’s a nullification of our legal process in exactly the same way that Larry Krasner has done to Philadelphia. And it’s no way to run the Attorney General’s Office.”

Williams was the manager in Krasner’s House impeachment. That case is now pending before the sate Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments Nov. 28.

“I come to this fight with the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions in one arm and my Marine Corps sword in the other,” said Williams. “And I’m going to fight to keep people safe.”

In addition to Stollsteimer, the list of Democratic c candidates includes Kier Bradford-Grey, a former public defender; former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale; former Bucks County solicitor Joe Khan; and state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia).

Williams and his wife, lawyer Jennifer Arbittier Williams, have four children and live in the Garnet Valley School District.

Chester County Dems Slammed Over Lax Prison Security That Led to Escapes

Having overseen the Chester County Prison, where two prisoners –including convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante — have escaped since May, Democrats shouldn’t escape their responsibility for this security failure.

That was the message from Republicans holding a press conference Wednesday calling out Democratic county officials, such as the sheriff, district attorney, and the majority commissioners, for their failed oversight of the county prison in the wake of Cavalcante’s escape.

“The residents of Chester County deserve better,” said Eric Roe, the former state representative and a Republican running for county commissioner. “Let me be clear: I am not criticizing the brave men and women of law enforcement who are out there in the heat working tirelessly to find this dangerous and evil man. My frustration is with the people at the highest levels of county government tasked with preventing these escapes, acting quickly in the event of an escape, and keeping our residents properly informed. Several Chester County Prison Board members are on your ballot this November. If you are not happy with the status quo, then I urge you to vote accordingly.”

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 and has not been apprehended as of this writing. There have been multiple sightings, including on trail cameras in Longwood Gardens. A jury convicted Cavalcante of murder for brutally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her children, and a judge sentenced him to life in prison. Cavalcante is also wanted for a 2017 murder in his native Brazil, officials said.

The primary role for any government is the safety and wellbeing of its residents,” said David Sommers, a Republican candidate for county commission. “Chester County Commissioners must keep our communities safe. The escape of an ‘extremely dangerous’ inmate from the Chester County Prison is of great concern. It is the duty and responsibility of the entire Chester County Prison Board, of which the three commissioners are members, to run and maintain the correctional facility. Many questions remain unanswered to date. Residents deserve a full explanation of the events surrounding the escape, response time, and subsequent notification to the public.”

The commissioners “must thoroughly search for a new, qualified, vetted, permanent Chester County Prison warden,” Sommers added.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Cavalcante was still on the run, apparently having burglarized a home or homes to take food and items he needed to survive. Cameras showed him in Pocopson Township and areas near Longwood Gardens. Then Longwood Gardens officials saw Cavalcante walking on their trails.

“On the morning of September 5, 2023, security at Longwood Gardens notified law enforcement that they had received trail camera footage that was taken on their property, which showed an individual appearing to be Cavalcante,” a press release stated. “This area was just south of the original perimeter. Investigators confirmed it was Danelo Cavalcante, and he had a backpack, a duffle sling pack, and a hooded sweatshirt.

“Cavalcante was seen in the trail camera footage walking north at 8:21 p.m. and back south through the same location at 9:33 p.m. Based on that information, the manhunt has shifted from the original parameter to contain him, moving towards the southern end of the established perimeter,” the statement said.

Longwood Gardens closed. Area school superintendents were notified, leading to the closures of schools in Unionville Chadds-Ford and Kennett Area Consolidated school districts. Residents were notified by reverse 911.

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), whose district includes the affected area, told DVJournal, “I am in touch with both the State Police and the Governor’s Office of Legislative Affairs. My first priority is the safety of my community by capturing an escaped felon. I am told the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, the state police of Maryland and Delaware, as well as aviation and canine assets from those agencies, are now added to the hunt. That should bring some comfort to my worried district.”

“When this convict is recaptured, then we will have a conversation about the security of the Pocopson facility,” added Williams, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General and Marine JAG officer.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, who served as a state deputy attorney general, is livid about the incompetence of county officials.

“We now have the worst of our fears: An escaped convicted murderer is out and running around southern Chester County,” said Ciarrocchi.

Asked why county officials did not fix problems at the prison after a different inmate escaped in May, Ciarrocchi said, “You’re asking one of those commonsense questions that goes above and beyond law enforcement and politics. It’s a commonsense question. If it happened once, why wasn’t it fixed? And that’s a question somebody better answer. And our sheriff ought to answer that. Our commissioners ought to answer it. Our district attorney ought to answer it. But our sheriff and our district attorney are busy running for county judge, hoping people will vote for them because of their party label.”

A county spokeswoman said the matter is under investigation.

Ciarrocchi said the county prison should not house such dangerous prisoners. It is where inmates are “typically car thieves, con artists, welfare fraud, not, not usually physically harmful, violent, violent people go there as a holding cell until they’re being sent to a more secure prison.”

Longwood Gardens cameras caught the fugitive on a trail.

Cavalcante should not have been there, but since he was, prison authorities should have taken more precautions with him.

“We have one job. Hold this man until he’s put into a maximum security prison. And they failed in that basic duty. This is, this is a horrific failure of leadership. And then it was compounded by not really getting the public engaged so that we could be vigilant to help capture him and protect loved ones in our businesses,” said Ciarrocchi.

Ciarrocchi said, “This was a convicted murderer who is also standing on murder charges in Brazil. He should be the one person that everybody is paying attention to, and he is the one that they should have been building security around…To let him go, uh, is a gross failure in duty. And to let him go this many days and not engage the public is far worse. So that’s what appears to have happened.”

The district attorney’s office said hundreds of law enforcement officers are working around the clock to find Cavalcante. Helicopters, drones, and K-9 units are aiding the search.

Residents should keep their doors and windows locked and be aware of their surroundings.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Danelo Cavalcante is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately. Officials said there is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to his capture.

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PA House Appeals Krasner Impeachment to State Supreme Court

The state legislature may yet rid Philadelphia of progressive DA Larry Krasner.

The House impeachment managers filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court asking it to overturn a Commonwealth Court decision to stop the impeachment. The House voted to impeach Krasner in November 2022.

Under Krasner’s watch, murders and carjackings have skyrocketed in the City of Brotherly Love. Retail theft has jumped due to a non-prosecution policy that has businesses abandoning the city after seeing their bottom lines plummet.

But policy questions are not what is alleged by the impeachment managers. Rather, they allege actual criminal conduct.

Former federal prosecutor and Marine JAG state Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), the lead impeachment manager, talked to the DVJournal Wednesday about the charges against Krasner.

The seven articles of impeachment ranged from lying to a grand jury, lying to the state Supreme Court, failing to inform crime victims, and lying to a federal court.

“We’ve been saying from the beginning that this conduct is unlawful,” said Williams. “Not just that we think that Larry Krasner has not done a fine job as the district attorney, but he has conducted himself in unlawful ways.”

One case that the House managers document in the impeachment appeal is about a Philadelphia police officer, Ryan Pownall, that raised concerns about “prosecutorial misconduct,” including hiding information from a grand jury and a trial judge.

Justice Kevin Dougherty, who recused himself from the appeal, wrote that in the Pownall case, prosecutors had engaged in conduct “worrisome coming from any litigant” but “even more concerning” coming from a prosecutor. There was an “intentional, deliberate choice not to inform the grand jurors about the justification defense” available to Officer Pownall. Further, the prosecution appeared to be “driven by a win-at-all-cost office culture” that treats police officers differently from other defendants.

“It is a crime in the state of Pennsylvania to use your official office to suppress or oppress someone’s legal rights,” said Williams. “It’s called official oppression under Title 18, or conspiracy to do that, or solicitation to do that. In other words, telling one of your subordinates to go do certain things.”

Another case the impeachment managers cite is a federal death penalty case where the prosecutors withheld information from the judge and the victim’s family, said Williams.

“Using your official office to oppress someone else’s legal rights in Pennsylvania constitutes a crime under Title 18, and that’s what I intend to prove,” said Williams.

If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, the next step is to have a trial before the state Senate. And if two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict Krasner, he would be removed from office.

The DVJournal asked Williams what would happen if Krasner refused to leave office. Williams said they would file for a writ with the court to make him go.

“That would be the ultimate act of civil disobedience.”

Many people note Krasner was twice elected to office and question whether the legislature should be getting involved.

“So is that to suggest that once somebody’s elected to office, they can’t commit a crime or they can’t misbehave while in office?” asked Williams. “I think the answer to that’s clearly no. I mean, we, we’ve tried plenty of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia officials for their illegal activity. So being elected to office is not some sort of cloak of immunity.”

Krasner has yet to respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

But lawyers for Krasner had previously filed documents contending the impeachment was unconstitutional and denying any charges the House brought against him.

Krasner is a former defense lawyer whose progressive policies align with a group of other district attorneys whose campaigns were also funded by money from Democratic mega-donor George Soros. When the impeachment articles were introduced by state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Krasner claimed the action was “devastating to democracy, and it shows how far toward fascism the Republican Party is creeping.”

White justified impeachment by saying at that time, “The information contained in the most recent preliminary report was so egregious to me I felt compelled to drop these articles of impeachment,” 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 Philadelphia district attorney by inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public’s interest.”

 

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Former Prosecutors Weigh-In on Mass Shooting in Philly

The 4th of July is a celebration of our country’s founding, a joyous summer holiday. Yet in Philadelphia, it was marred by a gunman who killed five people and wounded others– including two children– the evening before the holiday.

Days later, DelVal residents are still reeling from the senseless act of violence, although there is some comfort that a suspect, Kimbrady Carriker, 40, was arrested and is being held without bail.

At a press conference Wednesday, progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner blamed the state’s gun laws for the carnage.

“Finally, I just want to say this: it is disgusting, the lack of proper gun legislation that we have in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Krasner said. “It is disgusting that you can go to New Jersey and find a whole list of reasonable gun regulation that we don’t have, that you can go to Delaware, and there’s almost as long a list of reasonable gun legislation that we don’t have,”

The DVJournal asked some former prosecutors for their thoughts.

Former U.S. Attorney William McSwain said, “The appalling violence that we’ve seen in Philadelphia – including the mass shooting this past Monday – will stop only once our city leaders, especially the DA and the mayor, stop pretending that anybody other than the criminal is responsible for a heinous criminal act. It is not the fault of the state legislature for not enacting the DA’s and the Mayor’s preferred progressive policies.

“It is not the fault of society. There is never, ever any justification for walking up to somebody and shooting them in the head. What we need in Philadelphia is deterrence and serious punishment for crime. Crime will be deterred only when there are serious consequences for it. By consistently making excuses for criminals, our city leaders have led us down a destructive path. This is rooted in fantasy. Our city deserves better,” McSwain said.

Bruce L. Castor Jr., former Montgomery County DA, now a plaintiff’s attorney, said, “I represent the 13-year-old boy shot in the lower legs (allegedly by Carriker).  From a civil perspective, we are evaluating the conflicting statements concerning whether the killer was a transsexual.  I am interested to know if this is a person transitioning, whether he was properly evaluated for mental health side-effects to the procedure, and correctly counseled concerning the effects transition therapy might affect him and his thinking.”

“From a criminal perspective, it appears the police and DA have charged him such that the death penalty ought to apply–though I am aware that is no longer in vogue since the days when I did those cases,” Castor added.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat,  has stated that he will not sign warrants to enforce the death penalty.

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) called the shooting “an absolute tragedy.”

“The answer of the district attorney, along with the mayor, was to go to the camera and blame Harrisburg for not having passed enough gun reforms. In answer to that the Democrats this week ran a bill that would have taxed every single purchase of a firearm and taxed every single application for a concealed carry permit to pay for street lighting in Philadelphia…Their answer to people being murdered in Philadelphia with firearms is to tax law abiding citizens who are doing nothing wrong, not even living in Philadelphia, to pay for more street lights in Philadelphia.”

Williams offered and amendment to that bill to fund a gun violence tax force with the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute gun crimes and the U.S. Attorney’s office to the DA’s office “and actually go after criminals.”

“If you want to fight back you’re going to have to carry the fight to the streets by way of prosecution,” said Williams.  Williams served as chief prosecutor for the largest base in the Marine Corps. He also served as deputy legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He later served as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice and was also a prosecutor for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Joe McGettigan,  who has served as first assistant DA for Delaware County and Philadelphia, as well as chief deputy in the Attorney General’s Office, also pointed to a too-liberal justice system.

“Of course, this tragic event,  committed by an obvious lunatic, will bring a hue and cry from the usual political actors. They will denounce ‘mass shootings’ and ‘gun violence’ and call for more ‘common sense’ gun laws, etc., apparently blithely unaware that most laws, common sense or otherwise, are not a great impediment to the lunatic fringe or those who profit from commerce with them,” said McGettigan.

He added, “And mass shootings make up a fraction of deaths by shooting. Now some serious incarceration for those who illegally traffic in guns or who use them, even juveniles, well, that might help. But fear of being accused of calling for mass incarceration, or worse, prevents those sorts of commonsense measures from being implemented.

“Perhaps the lengthy separation of the criminally violent from their innocent prey might help the situation, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for the enlightenment of the progressives. Until that unlikely awakening, prepare for more violence, followed by more rhetoric,” he said.

“Good luck, and protect yourself at all times,” McGettigan warned.

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Republican Policy Committee Visits Delco, Discusses Solutions to Youth Crime

How can we keep young people prone to getting into trouble out of jail yet also live in a safe society?

Two experts discussed restorative justice with the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee Monday at a hearing in the Concord Township Building.

Rep. Craig Willaims (R-Chadds Ford) enlisted panelists Greg Volz and Liam Power to discuss juvenile justice.

Volz, director of Youth Courts and a criminal justice instructor at Harcum College, said the goal is for kids to become good citizens and to shut down the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

He has run Youth Courts in the Chester Upland School District, Norristown Area High School, and many others.

The Youth Courts can keep students from being expelled or suspended and also keep them from entering the criminal justice system. He wants to see more Youth Courts in the justice system and schools.

He said that kids as young as fifth grade can get involved in Youth Courts, where the youngsters decide on their peers’ guilt and punishment. While Volz has set up Youth Courts at many area high schools, younger kids are often ideal candidates for the Youth Courts, he said.

“They’re still optimistic, excited to learn about the law,” he said.

Power currently chairs the Education Task Force for the state Office of Advocacy and Reform and spoke about the trauma-informed Pennsylvania plan.

Power said his task force has been working to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline through restorative practices, thereby preventing young people from getting involved in more serious crimes.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic increased preexisting trends of retirements of educators, mental health experts, counselors, and others, creating an increasing demand for these professions coupled with workforce shortages. He said these factors have made kids more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.

“Mental health is directly correlated with criminal justice involvement,” said Power. “With 1 in 4 people with a mental health condition being arrested in their lifetime. And 7 in 10 youth in the juvenile justice system, having a diagnosed mental health condition.”

A multifaceted approach is needed, including restorative practices and trauma-informed practices.

He said that youth courts can create empathy with law enforcement if they are involved.

Restorative practices also improve situations and reduce the criminal justice system’s involvement. A workforce development program can also help and provide people with the skills to earn “family-sustaining wages,” he said.

While Power did not go into detail about restorative justice practices, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, those programs use trained facilitators to bring the “responsible party” and the “harmed party” together with family and community members to “determine the appropriate response” and repair the damage.

“We need to fund off-ramps from the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Power. People are beginning to understand the effect of trauma on children.

Williams said he lost his brother to addiction in 2020. He said he would ask him why he couldn’t stop (using drugs). But that was the wrong question.

Later, he visited the George Hill Correctional Facility. Williams asked inmates going through drug rehab if they remembered the day they began to use. One told him the right question would be if he remembered the day his mother’s boyfriend sexually assaulted him.

“Since then, I’ve thought many times what it was (that) my brother went through,” he said. “I never asked that question, and I wish I had that opportunity back.”

“This idea of trauma-informed care, as I’ve become more and more an advocate for it locally, with our institutions, trying to bring it here,” said Willaims.

“How do we help a young man (because, more often than not, it’s young boys) understand his ‘why’ for his behavior? If we can help him or her get to their ‘why,’ maybe they can cure the behavior.”

“We need to provide off-ramps,” he said. “And I think that’s where we can be as a matter of statewide policy, which is absolutely rigid in our enforcement of the law, cracking down on crime and still providing off-ramps. We can hold those two thoughts simultaneously, protecting our community and helping people reform or restore, helping them understand their why.”

Power said, “Trauma-informed care and accountability do go hand in hand and are mutually inclusive in that respect. We must live in a place with accountability. We must enforce laws. But where trauma or past experiences create roadblocks in the minds of youth, the only way out of that, the only path forward is through building trust.”

He added, “We have to take the time, we have to see, we have to be human, we have to share sometimes of ourselves and be prepared to be vulnerable. When a youth trusts you, they will begin to believe you’re there to help them. And when they finally feel that sense of safety…everything will come through the way it needs to…Trust is the underpinning of this entire process from beginning to end.”

 

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PA House Impeachment Managers Appeal Court Decision in DA Krasner Case

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.

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Williams Announces Grant Approved to Fund Westtown Township Acquisition of Crebilly Farm

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware/Chester) announced Wednesday Westtown Township has been awarded $4 million toward the acquisition of Crebilly Farm by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

“Preservation of open space in our communities is one of my top priorities. In November, the residents of Westtown Township overwhelmingly voted to purchase Crebilly Farm through local tax increases to halt development on this historically significant property,” Williams said. “I promised Westtown residents I would pursue every possible offset to their local tax increases. This grant announced by DCNR – when combined with the $2 million grant from last September – addresses $6 million of the almost $16 million needed to save the property.”

The grant will acquire the Crebilly Farm – 206 acres of open land – preserving it as a new township park. The new park will also connect local trail systems that run through the Greater Philadelphia area. The Crebilly Farm property is the centerpiece of the 400-acre Brandywine Battlefield. Other municipalities in the district have worked hard on preserving space around the battlefield, including partnering with private organizations.

Supported by federal dollars, DCNR was allocated money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund established by Congress in 1964. These grant dollars safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage.

“The unfortunate reality is that our portions of Chester and Delaware counties will always be under pressure to over-build. It creates burdens all around, including on our traffic, our schools, our municipal services and our public safety, among others. It also diminishes the historic draw of our region,” Williams said.  “I learned early in my Marine Corps career to refuse binary thinking about solving problems. I believe we may continue to preserve open space by leveraging a host of programs and ideas (like the federal dollars available in this instance). Rather than a binary choice, it becomes a problem-solving moment for us all.”

Jon Altshul, Westtown Township manager, said, “We are thrilled that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources sees the value in protecting Crebilly Farm and ensuring that the property is preserved for generations to come.”

Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Richard Pomerantz said, “On behalf of the hundreds of volunteers and all those whose generosity helped defray the costs of the successful open space referendum in November as well as the thousands of residents who overwhelmingly voted Yes with the intent to save Crebilly, we are grateful to DCNR for recognizing the great import of this iconic property as manifested in its generous support of preserving Crebilly Farm.

“In this context, our gratitude too to Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) for her years of advocacy in our community and Harrisburg. As well as Diane Herrin our community’s (just retired representative) for her tireless hands-on guidance in helping to engender the overwhelming referendum success that has resulted in the DCNR grant.

“It is In the same spirit, too, we would very much look forward to benefiting from everything Rep. Craig Williams (our community’s new representative) can do to help in this ongoing work-in-progress.”

“Williams is a retired United States Marine Corps Colonel, a combat veteran decorated for his service under fire and a former federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice. He and his wife, Jennifer, have four children who are or were students in the Garnet Valley School District.

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State Agency Finds Dems Are Not in House Majority–GOP Sues

Asked by state House of Representatives Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau ruled Democrats are not in the majority. As it stands now, the House makeup will be 101 Republicans to 99 Democrats when the new session begins in January.

On Dec. 7, Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) was sworn in as majority leader, even though three seats are vacant.

Acting on his ruling, Cutler filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court Friday asking for an injunction against special elections called by McClinton to fill those three seats. The vacancies were created by the October death of Rep. Tony DeLuca and the election of Reps. Austin Davis and Summer Lee to higher offices while being simultaneously re-elected to the House.

Democrats party after ‘flipping’ House

“Instead of working cooperatively to navigate the unique circumstances before us, House Democrats have instead set a terrible precedent for what to expect over the next two years and beyond. Moreover, they have started this session with a sad waste of time and resources that is reminiscent of the failed petty conduct their caucus has been engaging in for the better part of the last decade,” said Cutler (R-Lancaster).

Nicole Reigelman, a spokeswoman for McClinton, said, “House Democrats won a majority of districts. Leader McClinton is committed to ensuring the will of the people is respected and that special elections for the vacant seats can be held as soon as possible. The only reason Republican leaders would want to delay those elections is to prolong the period in which Pennsylvania voters are without representation so that they can advance extremist policies – in flagrant opposition to the message delivered by Pennsylvanians on Election Day.”

Democrats also had a party to celebrate, as tweeted by @LetsTurnPABlue: We flipped the State House…so we had to throw a party! Thank you to all the elected officials, candidates, volunteers, and donors who made this victory possible. Our work is not done. Let’s keep this momentum heading into 2023 and 2024!”

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) said, “I had hopes that in a closely divided House, we would find the common ground necessary to pass any important legislation, a sentiment that already has wide bipartisan agreement. This is especially true where, like now, one party has a narrow, likely temporary, majority of the House.

“That situation will change throughout the term, as members inevitably leave the House mid-cycle in a chamber that will separate the majority from the minority by one single vote,” added Williams, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney. “Unlike previous lofty floor rhetoric, House Democrat leadership has shown thus far that they prefer hostility over good governance from their 101-99 minority. I assume that divisiveness will only continue if they gain an actual majority of the House. I hope I am wrong; I hope the reasonable minds of their caucus win the day. That’s how I intend to comport myself. Otherwise, we will get nothing done the next two years.”

David Foster, a spokesman for the House Republicans, said other Delaware Valley representatives did not want to comment since the leadership issue will be heard in court.

Springfield GOP chair and lawyer Michael Puppio Jr. said, “Rep. McClinton is a strong voice for her constituents in Philadelphia and Delaware County. She is also an advocate for many bipartisan issues that directly impact Southeastern Pennsylvania. Which party has the majority will be determined by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but it appears that after the three special elections occur, the Democrats will most likely emerge with the majority for this two-year legislative session.”

The House Democratic Caucus released a statement Saturday in response to the lawsuit:

“Rep. Cutler’s lawsuit is just the latest attempt to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters and deny tens of thousands of people in Allegheny County their right to representation in the state House.

Under Pennsylvania law, the writ of election must be issued within 10 days of a vacancy. Having won the majority of legislative districts in the November election – which is indisputable – Leader McClinton was sworn into the legislative session early to serve as the chamber’s presiding officer in order to meet this constitutionally-driven requirement.

“There is only one reason to delay the special elections for the vacant legislative seats and that is to deny nearly 200,000 voters their right to representation.

“House Democrats are focused on ensuring every Pennsylvanian has representation and that the state House be restored to its full complement as quickly as possible. We need to let the people decide and we need to let them decide as soon as possible. The sooner special elections occur, the sooner state lawmakers can get to work.”

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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.