Accused PA Prosecutor Stands Before Justices

( – Pennsylvania’s highest court engaged in deliberations on Tuesday, November 28, regarding the fate of Philadelphia’s elected progressive prosecutor, Larry Krasner, and the Legislature’s authority to conduct an impeachment trial against him. The court’s decision, following oral arguments in the state capital of Harrisburg, will hold sway over the ongoing efforts to oust Krasner on grounds related to his prosecutorial decisions, bail policies, and management of office.

Among other things, Krasner has been accused of deliberately failing to alert a jury about a justifiable defense available to a cop on trial for homicide. The implication is that the progressive Krasner was trying to ensure a conviction at the expense of the defendant’s rights.

Krasner, a Democrat, previously faced impeachment by the state House in November 2022, a year after his decisive re-election for a second term, which led to the matter being forwarded to the state Senate for a formal trial. Justice Kevin Brobson, one of the court’s Republicans, questioned the court’s intervention at this juncture and hinted at skepticism regarding the Senate’s potential to secure the two-thirds majority required for conviction, and eventually, impeachment.

Justice Christine Donohue, representing the Democratic justices, expressed discomfort delving into the specifics of impeachable offenses but suggested that defining misbehavior in office, the basis for removal, should be within the Supreme Court’s scope.

Justice David Wecht, another Democratic justice, pushed back against the argument that lawmakers should determine misbehavior, saying that it is essentially pointless. Wecht highlighted the potential arbitrariness of such determinations, emphasizing the subjective nature of what lawmakers might consider grounds for impeachment, saying that the entire process is overly complex and will not make much of a difference, regardless of the result.

Krasner, dismissing claims by House Republicans as targeting his policies, saw a split ruling in a lower court. While the panel rejected challenges regarding the trial’s expiration and Krasner’s impeachment eligibility, it sided with him on the contention that the impeachment articles didn’t align with the state constitution’s definition of misbehavior in office.

Krasner’s appeal seeks a reconsideration of the Commonwealth Court’s decision, underscoring the complexity and constitutional questions surrounding the impeachment process. The outcome will significantly impact the trajectory of Krasner’s tenure as the elected prosecutor.

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