Krasner files lawsuit, asks Commonwealth Court to halt impeachment efforts
The District Attorney is facing an impeachment trial this January and has called the GOP-led efforts unlawful.
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Last Friday, Dec. 2, District Attorney Larry Krasner pleaded to the Commonwealth Court to intervene and stop the impeachment efforts towards him being led by PA House Republicans.
Krasner is looking for the court to declare that the General Assembly does not have the necessary constitutional authority to remove local officials and that the claims that have been made against him do not represent the “misbehavior in office" required for impeachment.
The District Attorney’s lawsuit is against the main GOP official who has led this impeachment effort, Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County, as well as other unnamed members of the Senate committee that has overseen the impeachment efforts and the three impeachment managers chosen by the PA House of Representatives.
“Never before has the legislature exercised its power to impeach and remove someone duly elected twice for things that do not come close to a crime,” Krasner's lawyers told the court. “And never before has the statewide legislature exercised its power to impeach a locally elected officer like District Attorney Krasner."
According to the lawsuit, only the city and not the state House or Senate, have oversight over any attempted impeachment and removal of the district attorney.
Erica Clayton Wright, Ward’s spokesperson, said on Friday that Krasner’s lawsuit was under review and that a response would be made “once we have had time to evaluate the case.”
The GOP-led committee voted to impeach Krasner back on Nov. 16, as it now heads for the state Senate for trial next month. To oust the DA, it will require two-thirds of senators' majority, a difficult task in a politically divided chamber.
State House GOP officials are looking to remove Krasner for his perceived lack of toughness in regards to the rising gun crime, in addition to lenient sentencing. This comes as Krasner was overwhelmingly reelected last year and is not actually accused of any crime. They also argue that Krasner obstructed the House investigation into his office, a claim the DA has denied.
At the hearing where members of the state House voted to approve the articles of impeachment, Democrats pointed out that in the almost three century history of the state, only two officials have been impeached, and those were for actual crimes — a county judge in 1811 and then state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen in 1994.
“Here, the District Attorney of Philadelphia has been impeached by a lame-duck House based primarily on policy disagreements, which could not be more different than the criminal conduct at issue,” Krasner’s lawyers wrote.
Last month, Republican House Speaker Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County named Republican Reps. Tim Bonner of Mercer County and Craig Williams of Delaware County, and Democratic Rep. Jared Solomon of Philly — who voted against impeachment — to manage the Senate trial in the new year.
“This is an attempt by Trump-style Republicans to once again blow out the votes of residents in Philadelphia,” State Rep. Jared Solomon said. “If it can happen in Philadelphia, it can happen in any one of our 67 counties. We need to protect democracy and that's what I’m in the room to do.”
Krasner has until Dec. 21 to file an answer, while the trial is set to start Jan. 18.