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Philly DA Krasner files Commonwealth Court petition to block House probe toward impeachment

The petition is the latest volley in the legal and political fight between Krasner and House Republicans.

District Attorney Larry Krasner spoke at a press conference on August 17 about a shooting near Shepard Recreation Center in West Philadelphia.
District Attorney Larry Krasner spoke at a press conference on August 17 about a shooting near Shepard Recreation Center in West Philadelphia.Read moreTYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Friday filed a petition in Commonwealth Court seeking to block a subpoena issued by the state legislative committee searching for grounds to impeach him.

The 83-page petition asks the court to declare the investigation by the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order improper and to prohibit members of the committee from doing any work on its behalf. Krasner already said last month that he would not comply with the subpoena.

“This Petition for Review is not about whether one agrees or disagrees with District Attorney Krasner’s policies, effective as they are,” the filing said. “Rather, it is about an improper and antidemocratic effort by House members to try to impeach and remove from office a duly-elected local executive official because they do not like his policies and they cannot defeat him at the ballot box.”

State Rep. John Lawrence, a Republican who represents parts of Chester and Lancaster Counties and chairs the select committee, said in a statement that the committee will not be deterred by “grandstanding and stonewalling.”

“No one is above the law. The House of Representatives has clear authority under the Pennsylvania Constitution, state law, case law, and the Rules of the House to pursue this legislative initiative,” Lawrence said.

The petition marked the latest development in the political and legal fight over Krasner playing out in Harrisburg. The House voted largely along party lines in June to investigate the possibility of impeachment over what critics called Krasner’s “dereliction of duty” in addressing Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis.

Among the sensitive materials sought by the committee are “the investigating grand jury records related to the investigation and prosecution of former officer Ryan Pownall,” who is awaiting trial on murder charges. Grand jury proceedings are generally kept secret by law.

The petition was filed on Krasner’s behalf by John S. Summers, a shareholder at the Philadelphia law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller.