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December 31, 2022

Commonwealth Court judge says D.A. Larry Krasner's actions don't meet the standard of, 'misbehavior in office'

Philadelphia's top prosecutor is supposed to stand trail for impeachment on Jan. 18, however, it is not clear whether Friday's ruling puts an end to the process

Government Impeachment
Krasner impeachment case Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler determined the seven articles of impeachment introduced toward Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner are not grounds for removal from his position.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner got some good news in his attempt to get the articles of impeachment against him thrown out. 

On Friday, Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled that none of the articles of impeachment satisfy "misbehavior in office," which would be grounds for removal, including failure to perform his duty positively or having a corrupt motive while performing his duty as a prosecutor.

This ruling comes after Krasner filed a legal petition earlier in December to stop the impeachment process, which he called unlawful.

Although Judge Ceisler did agree that Krasner's actions were not grounds for impeachment, she did state that the Senate was able to bring articles of impeachment against the DA, arguing against Krasner's claim that impeachment hearings could not take place across two different legislative sessions. Ceisler also said that the state legislature could impeach a city district attorney from office.

Krasner is scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 18. However, it is unclear whether Friday's order ends the Senate's attempt to impeach the DA. 

Erica Clayton, a spokesperson for Senate Republicans, told the Inquirer they are reviewing the order and will respond after they have had time to evaluate the decision. 

Judge Ceisler was also mum on what her order meant for the impeachment proceedings, stating that she would offer more information at an unspecified date. However, she has stated that the proceedings could set a bad precedent because the impeachment seems to be based on public policy disagreements.

In October, the articles to impeach Krasner were filed. Rep. Martina White said at the time that Krasner had to face the consequences of his actions. The resolution to impeach the DA stated that spikes in crime aligned with Krasner's policies, which include not seeking cash bail in many cases and not prosecuting crimes like prostitution or marijuana possession.

"These are the consequences of District Attorney Larry Krasner's failure in office,"  White, the primary sponsor of the legislation to impeach the DA, said during a press conference. "No public official is above the law."

In November, the Pa. House voted to impeach Krasner as Philadelphia's District Attorney with a 107-85 tally. 

"In the hundreds of years the Commonwealth has existed, this is the only time the House has used the drastic remedy of impeachment of an elected official because they do not like their ideas," Krasner said, responding to the vote. "Those ideas are precisely why Philadelphia voters elected and reelected me to serve as the Philly DA — in two landslides. ... History will harshly judge this anti-democratic authoritarian effort to erase Philly's votes — votes by Black, brown, and broke people in Philadelphia. And voters will have the last word."