Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

DA Larry Krasner’s impeachment trial gets indefinitely postponed by the Pa. Senate

The future of the trial — and the timeline for when, or even if, it resumes — remains uncertain.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.Read moreTom Gralish / Staff Photographer

The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday voted to indefinitely postpone the impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and the future of the effort to remove the progressive prosecutor is now unclear.

The trial had been scheduled to begin Jan. 18 after the Republican-led House voted largely along party lines last fall to impeach Krasner, a Democrat, for what they called his dereliction of duty.

But after a Commonwealth Court decision last month to dismiss the articles of impeachment as legally insufficient, the future of the trial — and the timeline for when, or even if, it resumes — remains uncertain.

The postponement, which the Senate unanimously approved, comes after the Commonwealth Court issued an order dismissing the seven articles of impeachment against Krasner on Dec. 30, saying none met the required legal standard of “misbehavior in office.”

» READ MORE: What exactly is DA Larry Krasner being charged with? We explain each impeachment article.

Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler said the articles did not sufficiently demonstrate that Krasner had failed to perform his duties or acted with an improper or corrupt motive, a standard required under the state constitution to impeach a public official.

The court has not yet released an opinion explaining the reasoning behind the dismissal. A timeline for that remains unclear.

State Rep. Craig Williams, one of the managers leading the impeachment, said legislators are waiting for the opinion for guidance on how to move forward. He said they will likely appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and argue that the Commonwealth Court lacks standing to intervene in a legislative process.

Williams said they will also argue in the appeal that the impeachment articles do cite examples of misconduct in office in the handling of two criminal cases in which they said prosecutors in Krasner’s office presented misleading information to a judge and violated professional standards.

Williams, a Chester County Republican, said he intends to argue that Krasner lied to the court and acted criminally in those matters.

Krasner has consistently denied the allegations and said the impeachment case is unconstitutional and should be dismissed. A spokesperson for his office declined to comment Wednesday pending the court’s opinion.

“Right now, we are in a ‘take it one step at a time,’ and the next step is we need an opinion from the Commonwealth Court,” Williams said Wednesday.

The case could be held up in the Supreme Court for months.

Once the court process concludes, the state House would likely have to reappoint representatives as case managers, Williams said. And if any of the articles of impeachment change, the entire process would have to start over, and the House and any committees involved would have to reconsider the matter and vote anew on whether the impeachment effort should proceed.

Because the House is recessed indefinitely and there’s still no clear majority party as special election results are awaited, it remains unclear how that might unfold.

It’s the latest complication in an unprecedented effort to remove Krasner. Republicans have argued that Krasner’s reform-oriented policies are driving an increase in gun violence in Philadelphia and that his team’s handling of some court cases and decision not to press charges against people for lower-level offenses, like drug possession and prostitution, violate state laws.

Krasner has denied this and said that Republicans are targeting him based on ideological differences and that the effort to remove him undermines the will of Philadelphia voters, who overwhelmingly reelected him in 2021.

Still, the House voted largely along party lines to impeach Krasner in November, and the Republican-led Senate said it was constitutionally obligated to hold a trial.

Staff writers Chris Palmer and Gillian McGoldrick contributed to this article.