Impeachment officials named, as law enforcement group slams Philly DA impeachment attempt

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The State House on Friday announced the three lawmakers who will serve as prosecutors for the impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, which is scheduled to begin later this month in the state Senate.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, named a team of three House members who are also attorneys: Tim Bonner, R-Mercer/Butler, Craig Williams, R-Delaware/Chester and Jared Solomon, D -Philadelphia.

In a statement Friday, Cutler said the managers “exemplify the skill and character required at this time” and that “each of their diverse backgrounds and education will help ensure this process is handled with the utmost professionalism and rigor”.

Reaction to Krasner’s impeachment – the first time in more than a quarter century that power has been used – grew on Friday, as a bipartisan group of 80 attorneys general, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials Laws Nationwide issued a letter saying the move “constitutes a deeply alarming attempt to disenfranchise voters, a rejection of democratic values, and a potential threat to public safety.”

Solomon, the only Democrat among those responsible for the impeachment, voiced similar opposition during a Judiciary Committee debate on Tuesday, saying “we must all reject this decision and uphold our constitution by voting no on these articles of impeachment.”

Cutler’s office consulted with Democratic leaders to select Solomon, Cutler spokesman Mike Straub said Friday, with both sides well aware that the resolution’s requirement for a bipartisan trial team meant someone who opposed the impeachment would judge the case.

The House voted 107 to 85 on Wednesday in favor of the impeachment resolution against Krasner – who was first elected in 2017 and re-elected by Philadelphia voters last year – with no Democratic support and all but one Republican voting for.

The final vote on the impeachment resolution followed several months of investigation by a Republican-led select committee that was convened specifically to create grounds for Krasner’s impeachment.

Krasner and other Democrats have described the effort as a partisan witch hunt, pointing the finger at Republican candidates who campaigned in 2022 to try to tie vulnerable Democratic candidates to Krasner, his progressive policies and rising of crime in Philadelphia for which Republicans blame him.

Republicans accuse Krasner of overstepping his authority and usurping that of the legislature, issuing sweeping executive orders on how certain types of criminal cases should be handled, which they describe as particularly inscrutable.

That includes Cutler himself, who in a floor speech Wednesday said Krasner’s actions extend beyond the reasonable discretion prosecutors have in handling cases.

“What’s happening is very different,” Cutler said. “The District Attorney is currently acting in a legislative capacity by simply declaring entire sections of the law void, not actionable, will not prosecute them.”

Republicans identified Krasner’s progressive criminal justice reform policies — such as not prosecuting low-level drug and prostitution arrests, reducing cash bail requests for certain offenses and offering plea deals with less oversight — and attempted to link them to Philadelphia’s crime problem.

Democrats, as well as Krasner himself, have questioned how Republicans are laying the issues entirely at Krasner’s feet, pointing out that the rise in violent crime in Philadelphia has been in line with the national trend since 2020, and that other counties of Pennsylvania actually experienced a greater increase in homicides over the period.

“Crime rates in this country are far more complex than some Pennsylvania lawmakers want the public to believe,” the coalition of law enforcement officials wrote in their letter, which was distributed by the advocacy group. Legal Fair and Just Prosecution. “The reality is that neither the increase nor the decrease in crime can be attributed solely to any single official or office and prosecutors alone cannot create public safety.”

The Pennsylvania Constitution allows the legislature to impeach officials for “misconduct in office,” a vague standard that has been challenged in previous impeachment attempts.

The most recent case before Krasner was the 1994 impeachment of state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, who was investigated for influence peddling and later convicted of conspiracy. related to prescription drug fraud.

This has led Democrats to wonder how Krasner, even admitting his performance in office has been less than stellar, can be removed from office without committing a crime.

Solomon himself laid out that legal argument in detail Tuesday, saying that while he was less than impressed with Krasner on many counts, none of those issues fit the existing legal standard of impeachment.

“I think Mr. Krasner has made some necessary reforms to the city of Philadelphia,” Solomon said, particularly a reduction in low-level drug prosecutions, but that “additionally, Mr. Krasner is woefully inadequate in as a leader in our city,” especially when it comes to line-level prosecutor training — or lack thereof — and the high rate at which Krasner’s office dropped or withdrew gun cases.

(Krasner’s office said the problem is partly due to witnesses not showing up and police filing increasingly tenuous gun possession cases.)

“Mission and leadership style, however, is not what we are here to discuss,” Solomon continued. “Instead, what we are here to consider is whether Mr. Krasner’s performance or failure in office rises to the level of impeachment, which is a constitutional standard.”

“On the one hand we have a vehement disagreement with a DA’s approach, on the other we have criminal conduct,” Solomon said, referring to the previous Larsen. “It’s pretty clear.”

The next step would be for the State Senate to meet and formally receive the articles of impeachment contained in the House resolution. It was unclear on Friday when that would happen. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is constitutionally required for Krasner to be removed from office.

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