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GOP impeachment managers look to revive Philly DA Krasner’s Senate trial

Pennsylvania House Republicans / via livestream.com
In this screenshot, Rep. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer) speaks at a press conference announcing an appeal of a court decision halting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner's impeachment trial on Jan. 26, 2023 in Harrisburg.

The two Republican managers handling the impeachment of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner are appealing a state court decision that stopped the proceeding.

Reps. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer) and Craig Williams (R-Delaware) told a press gathering in Harrisburg Thursday that they can prove to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Krasner has either willfully not performed his duties or has acted in a corrupt way during his tenure.

Elected leaders can be impeached for either under state law, under a legal standard known as “misbehavior in office.”

“Compliance with the [state] Constitution is what Mr. Williams and I seek through this appeal,” Bonner said.

After the House voted 107–85 to impeach Krasner late last year, Bonner and Williams were among those appointed to present the case against him in a Senate trial.

Krasner’s office then sued to stop the effort. Commonwealth Court judges agreed to do that in late December, writing this month that the House didn’t make a strong enough case for the two-term District Attorney’s removal from office. Krasner has argued for months that the articles amount to disagreements about how he has run the DA’s office.

Bonner and Williams’ appeal filed Thursday afternoon asks the state Supreme Court to determine whether the lower court “erred” in making that decision. Four Democrats and two Republicans currently sit on that panel, while a seventh justice will be elected this year.

Williams said he and Bonner will try to argue that the four Commonwealth Court judges who halted the impeachment trial didn’t look closely enough at their case.

“The Commonwealth Court did absolutely nothing with the underlying facts of those articles; no analysis about whether those facts constitute misbehavior in office,” Williams said.

They simply said that any discipline that should be imposed upon Mr. Krasner must come through the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board,” Bonner added.

Three of the seven impeachment articles point to specific cases where either Krasner or his deputies may have done something worthy of impeachment. The other four charge Krasner with things like “dereliction of duty” and “Usurpation of the Legislative Function.”

In a statement this month, Philadelphia District Attorney spokesperson Jane Roh said the lower court was right to reject those charges as politically-motivated.

“The meaning of “misbehavior in office” sufficient to justify impeachment is a constitutional matter for the courts to consider — it is not simply up to the legislature to determine,” she wrote.

Krasner’s impeachment trial was set for Jan. 18, but has since been canceled.