This summer, Republicans called for the impeachment of progressive DA Larry Krasner. A committee attempted to subpoena documents from his office and he refused to comply with that subpoena. So last month the Pennsylvania House voted to hold Krasner in contempt. The vote was overwhelming, 162-38, meaning even some Philadelphia Democrats agreed that Krasner was out of line to dodge the subpoenas. Today, the PA House announced articles of impeachment against Krasner:

Pennsylvania House Republicans announced articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Wednesday, decrying his “progressive criminal justice philosophy that prioritizes criminals over victims,” which has led to increased homicide and carjackings in the city, they say.

The Republicans assembled at the press conference this morning painted a picture of a crime-ridden city where citizens live in “fear of even going to Wawa.” They linked climbing crime stats to Krasner’s leadership, citing recent findings from a select committee investigation.

“These are the consequences of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s failure in office,” Rep. Martina White, the primary sponsor of the articles of impeachment, said in the conference. “No public official is above the law.”…

Reporters at the conference questioned whether Krasner’s alleged inaction met the standard for impeachment, since the House Republicans had leveled no accusations of criminal behavior. They countered that “misbehavior in office” offered sufficient standing.

The issue of the grounds for the impeachment is one that Krasner raised in a statement last week:

You have never specified what your basis of impeachment is. There has been no suggestion of criminal conduct or corruption of any kind. You have never indicated to me or to anyone why I should be impeached, but there is little doubt that the Select Committee intends to recommend my impeachment. Indeed, this Committee was formed for the express purpose of recommending my impeachment. Rep. Ecker, one of the members of this committee, even publicly called for my impeachment before the Committee was formed…

There are many ways to pursue public safety. In the past, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) has relied almost exclusively on the blunt instrument of jail and prison, without recognizing that this approach is often ineffective and, in the long term, may make our communities more dangerous. In my office, we recognize we have numerous tools in our arsenal, and we use each one to build up our community. We are proud of our work. So are Philadelphians. It is why they overwhelmingly re-elected me less than a year ago…

I am utterly disappointed in the Select Committee’s approach during its investigation.

It subpoenaed files from my office, including prosecution case files and secret grand jury records that I legally cannot provide, and then rushed to hold me in contempt while I challenged, in a court, the lawfulness of the subpoena. It is pushing this process forward, at a blistering pace, before the courts can even address it. It refused to allow me to testify before it in a transparent way, insisting that it could only be done behind closed doors, and then, before negotiations of my appearance had ended, said that it that it no longer had time for my testimony.

The next step in the process is for the House to hold a vote to advance the impeachment to the PA Senate. So far there’s no commitment to doing that before the midterms.

Despite his claims that he is doing a great job in Philadelphia, Krasner’s office has recently been in trouble over efforts to help convicted murderers. In one case, Krasner was ordered by a judge to personally write letters of apology to a victim’s family:

A federal judge has found that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office provided incomplete and misleading information as it sought to overturn the death sentence of a man who killed an East Mount Airy couple inside their home in 1984, then shut off the heat and left their infant daughter inside to die.

In a blunt opinion issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg said top prosecutor Larry Krasner’s administration had failed to conduct a careful review of Robert Wharton’s case before asking Goldberg to vacate the death penalty and order Wharton to serve a life sentence instead. Goldberg said the review by prosecutors was “patently deficient” for failing to mention that Wharton had previously been convicted of violently trying to escape from a City Hall courtroom.

In addition, Goldberg found that Krasner’s office had provided a “false” account of its interactions with the victims’ relatives, including their daughter, Lisa Hart-Newman, who survived the attack. Goldberg said prosecutors filed documents suggesting that the family of Ferne and Bradley Hart had consented to a request to vacate Wharton’s death sentence, which the judge said was “not true.”

Just last week Krasner was in the news again after a convicted murder named Jahmir Harris, who was set free last year thanks to Krasner’s Conviction Integrity Unit, was accused of murdering a 50-year-old man. Once again, the judge in that case said Krasner’s office hadn’t made a careful review of the case (though she freed Harris anyway).

The DA’s Office asked Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi to vacate Harris’ conviction and set him free, which she did — but not without hesitation.

At one point, DeFino-Nastasi ordered prosecutors to show proof of a more thorough investigation proving that Harris was not involved. Later, she harshly criticized Patricia Cummings — then the director of the Conviction Integrity Unit — for what the judge cast as an incomplete review of the case.

Harris is now accused of murdering Charles Gossett and Krasner’s office is sticking to its claim that Harris was “likely innocent” in the previous case.

Jane Roh, spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said that prosecutors still believe Harris’ rights in his older case were violated, and that the office’s recent review of that case led prosecutors to believe Harris was “likely innocent” — a position that has not changed based on the new allegations against him.

As I wrote last week, “Having one of your freed prisoners (allegedly) murder someone else in nearly the same way seems like a pretty terrible outcome.” Finally, the Philly Inquirer published an editorial today urging Krasner to take this impeachment effort as a teachable moment.

In many positive ways, Krasner’s first five years in office have been transformative. He has brought a newfound focus to conviction integrity, successfully advocated for additional investments in forensic tools for criminal investigators, and held police officers accountable for their misconduct.

Yet, in an eerie echo of Krasner’s own criticisms of his predecessors, his single-minded zeal for reform has sometimes led to alarming outcomes — the most obvious being situations in which the district attorney’s office has made choices that have left dangerous people on the street who should have been in custody.

Yaaseen Bivins, the adult who purchased ammunition for and allegedly organized last month’s shooting at Roxborough High School, had already been convicted of injuring a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child while drag racing.

Krasner’s office chose not to ask the judge in Bivins’ case to revoke bail, a decision that mystified legal observers. Krasner’s office also sought to overturn the murder conviction of Jahmir Harris, against the advice of the presiding judge. Harris is now facing another murder charge. After three SWAT officers were shot while serving a warrant, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw lamented that her department “arrests the same suspects over and over again.”…

Krasner’s weaknesses are more glaring in a Philadelphia where murders are at a record and violent crime is a top concern for residents. Despite his assertions, the city is experiencing a crisis of lawlessness, crime, and violence.

The editorial concludes that the impeachment isn’t justified but that Krasner’s critics, who are not merely those on the right, have a point about his smug behavior and poor handling of many decisions in office.

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