Philadelphia’s liberal DA impeached by Pennsylvania House; what are the allegations?
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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in a vote that largely toed party lines.
The vote was 107 to 85 in favor of impeachment, with only one Republican joining Democrats in voting no.
Krasner will be tried by the Pennsylvania Senate, made up of 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats after the Nov. 8 election, according to NBC Philadelphia. Thirty-four votes would be needed to dismiss the public prosecutor.
Krasner said in a statement carried by CBS News that he was impeached because lawmakers did not like his ideas. He said he was elected and re-elected in two landslides, and elected officials who don’t live in Philadelphia are trying to wipe out the votes of Philadelphians.
“They impeached me without presenting any evidence linking our policies to an increase in crime,” the statement said. “We were never given the opportunity”
The House approved seven articles of impeachment. They allege that Krasner:
• Fired more than 30 assistant district attorneys after taking office, replacing them with attorneys who lacked significant prosecutorial experience. He also enacted policies aimed at ending mass incarceration. They included not pressing charges for some lesser crimes, seeking alternative sentences, and ending cash bail for many cases. The policies “have led to catastrophic consequences,” such as spikes in gun violence and homicides.
• Failure to cooperate with a House select committee investigating rising crime and Krasner’s performance as district attorney. After the House decided to despise Krasner, his efforts to comply with the subpoenas failed.
• Responded to a habeas petition from a convicted murderer by stating that his office would no longer seek the death penalty. A federal judge overseeing the case found that Krasner’s office failed to disclose the prisoner’s escape attempt and made misleading statements about communicating with the victims’ family. The judge ordered Krasner write letters of apology.
• Was criticized in a contest for a “gratuitous story” during a presentation before a grand jury and for a “win-win office culture” that “treats police officers differently from other defendants”.
• Hidden material facts in sworn testimony before a special master examining whether Krasner had a conflict of interest in favor of black activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was found guilty for the murder of a policeman. Krasner said he never represented an “organization” that defended Abu-Jamal, but he did not disclose that he represented at least one pro-Abu-Jamal activist.
• Violated victims’ rights laws by failing to contact victims of crime in a timely manner, misleading them and treating them “with contempt and disrespect”.
• Violated legislative authority by refusing to prosecute certain conduct, including prostitution, retail theft of goods under $500 and certain drug offences.
In a statement from November 16 after the impeachment, Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a group that focuses on organizing, training and promoting elected prosecutors, said the vote was “a dangerous abuse of power”.
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