Pa. Senate votes to postpone Krasner impeachment trial indefinitely

By: - January 11, 2023 11:41 am

District Attorney Larry Krasner (Jared Piper/Philadelphia City Council/City & State Pa.).

(*This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023,  to include comment from a spokesperson for Senate Republicans.)

The Senate impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is postponed following a vote from lawmakers in the upper chamber on Wednesday.

The vote to delay the proceedings indefinitely follows legal challenges filed by Krasner, a Democrat who easily won re-election in 2021. Last year, Krasner was issued a writ of summons instructing him to appear before lawmakers on Jan. 18 for Pennsylvania’s first impeachment trial in nearly three decades.

Lawmakers also voted 28-20 to readopt rules for the impeachment trial and swore an oath to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution while serving as jurors during the proceeding, when and if a trial occurs.

A spokesperson for Senate Republicans told reporters that the postponement stems from the Senate “awaiting court analysis, allocating time for a possible appeal, and reviewing the uncertain status of the House of Representatives and their impeachment managers.”

The House impeachment managers presented the articles of impeachment, which accuse Krasner of misbehavior in office and obstructing a legislative investigation, to the Senate in November on the final day of the most recently completed legislative session.

The House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, which was formed in June to investigate and review rising crime rates in the state’s largest city, has focused on Krasner’s approach to prosecuting crime in Philadelphia. In September, the GOP-controlled panel conducted a series of public hearings with live testimony on gun violence.

Krasner, who refused to respond to a subpoena issued by the GOP-controlled committee, has urged lawmakers to focus on a statewide review of gun violence and increased crime through a public process. He’s also accused legislative Republicans of using impeachment as a “political stunt” to attack his policies, arguing that lawmakers haven’t proven that his approach as a prosecutor has contributed to increased crime in Philadelphia.

In December, Krasner filed a lawsuit and asked a state court to stop the trial, arguing that the process is politically motivated, unlawful, and outside the General Assembly’s purview.

Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote that none of the articles filed against Krasner amounted to “misbehavior in office. She also rejected Krasner’s assertion that the Legislature doesn’t have the power to remove local officials from office.

A two-thirds majority vote — at least 34 lawmakers — in the Senate is required to remove Krasner from office, meaning that some Democrats in the 50-member chamber would have to support the measure for it to succeed after what could be a lengthy and costly trial.

Only two officials in Pennsylvania have faced removal from office through the impeachment process. The most recent occurred in 1994.

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