By David M. Greenwald
Philadelphia, PA – Last week, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner’s legal team filed challenges to the Pennsylvania Republican Assembly’s attempt to impeach him prior to a trial that is scheduled to take place in the State Senate.
Legal Counsel Michael Satin explained, “On Friday we filed on behalf of District Attorney Krasner two documents in Commonwealth Court two filings. One is a petition for review, and the second is an application for summary relief. And what they seek is a declaration that the impeachment proceedings against District Attorney Krasner are unlawful and may not proceed.”
Satin cited three reasons in support of their declaration that the impeachment proceedings are unlawful.
First, he said, “the articles of impeachment were adopted during the 206th General Assembly. And now that that has ended, they do not carry over to the 207th General Assembly. And that important deadline is November 30th. November 30th is when the general assembly ended, the previous one, and December 1st is when the 207th General Assembly began. And under Pennsylvania law, all matters pending at the end of a general session.”
Satin said that the second ground is that the DA is “not subject to impeachment by the General Assembly because the law under Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Constitution and the code in Pennsylvania do not authorize impeachment of the Philadelphia District Attorney to be impeached by the General Assembly under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Only the governor and civil officers may be impeached by the General Assembly, and the Philadelphia District Attorney is not a civil officer, but is instead a local officer.”
Third and finally “is that the amended articles of impeachment, in other words, the allegations in those articles of impeachment do not allege any conduct that constitutes any misbehavior in office.”
Satin said, “Now, we dispute the allegations that are in those articles of impeachment, but even if one were to believe them to be true, and they are not, those allegations do not rise to the level of misbehavior in office, which is the standard necessary for impeachment misbehavior in office means criminal conduct, including either a failure to perform a positive ministerial duty or the performance of a discretionary duty with improper motive. And the allegations in these articles of impeachment do not come anywhere close to alleging conduct that constitutes misbehavior in office.”
Satin said that he could not predict the outcome but believes that the law is on his side.
Larry Krasner when asked if he would show up to trial, said, “We fully intend to respond.”
He noted that he had attempted to do so previously, but was not allowed to publicly testify.
“I fully intend not to be silenced ths time. We are proud of our policies, we are proud of our ideas, we are proud of our successes.”
Satin clarified, “We think the law is actually pretty clear when you look at what the Constitution says.” He said, “But there really has been very little law on this. It just hasn’t come up.”
He added, “To be clear, we’re not saying that the District Attorney of Philadelphia can never be impeached. We’re saying he cannot be impeached by the General Assembly. And that’s an important distinction. There is a process under law for impeachment proceedings to take place at the local level.”
Krasner in the meantime pulled no punches.
Larry Krasner said it was important to look this in two different ways in terms of national context. One being the attack on reform prosecutors around the country and the other being a more generalized attack in this country, and an effort to “nullify elections and erase votes and frankly to undermine the foundations of democracy.”
Krasner fired back, “That is of course unnecessary when your team is winning, but they’re losing. The authoritarian movement in this country at the moment is losing. And the authoritarian movement in this country against reform prosecution is losing. I repeat, you don’t have to do this stuff when you’re winning elections.”
In terms of the reform movement, he noted that just a few years ago, only about “10% of the United States population lived in a jurisdiction that had elected or reelected a progressive prosecutor.”
Now it’s more than double that. About 70 to 75 million American voters have a progressive prosecutor.
“That amazing,” Krasner said. “That’s a lot better than either the Republican Party or my Democratic Party have been doing. When your group, your political group doubles its size and doubles its representation, something is going very right.”
At the same time, he said, “We have also seen more specifically, really well-funded, very nasty efforts to blow out of office reform prosecutors through the electoral process.”
He cited Kim Fox, George Gascón and himself.
He said that “there was tremendous funding against us. There was a national effort, there was leadership coming from the leader, the very, very Trumpy Republican leadership of the FOP, both locally and around the country. And we just kept winning.”
Krasner said, “And that’s my point, is the reason that all of this is happening is we just keep winning because we are doing what our voters want. So what do you do when you’re a minority party that doesn’t particularly care for reform or democracy and you just keep losing elections, you try to undo elections, you figure out you’re not going to be able to win elections.”
While he noted that Chesa Boudin lost in San Francisco, there was a lot of focus on that race and some specifics in San Francisco, including the fact that the average home price was $18 million that made it “an unusual place” and it was “a well-funded effort” to recall Boudin.
He added, “I wish there had been equal coverage of the fact that Pamela Price just won as the progressive or reform prosecutor in Alameda County, otherwise known as Oakland, which is right across the water, because that is a bigger jurisdiction. And that jurisdiction this November flipped from being a more traditional jurisdiction to being a reformed jurisdiction. But I didn’t see that heavy coverage coming from the media.”
Krasner also noted that Andrew Warren in Tampa was “removed from office for signing the same letter that I and about 70 other prosecutors signed that we would not prioritize the prosecution of women or medical professionals pursuing procreative and abortion rights.”
Krasner said, “That’s why he got removed by baby Trump in Florida. He was doing just fine, getting himself elected and reelected, but that’s why he got removed.”
He argued that across the nation, “What this is really about is undermining the foundations of our institutions and of democracy. It’s really about normalizing an assault on our country and doing so, frankly, using a lot of the tactics of our traditional enemies, whether that was the Confederacy or that was Nazi Germany. These are the tactics that they are using and we should not hesitate to call it out for exactly what it is.”