Monday, May 27, 2019

Philly DA seeks to undo death sentences

Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, a Democrat and former criminal defense attorney, had made clear while running for office his opposition to capital punishment, reported the Philadelphia Enquirer.  "I will never seek the death penalty — ever,” he said in a 2017 campaign video. “The DA’s Office is not required to do it and there’s no good reason to do it. It costs a fortune. We don’t execute anyone anyway, and Philadelphia does not have to remain the only city in the Northeast that still has the death penalty.”
But his efforts to reverse death sentences in years-old convictions have raised concerns among law enforcement officials and victims’ advocates about whether his office has been transparent with victims’ families. They also have brought pushback from those who say Krasner is attempting to impose his agenda by asking courts to undo punishments decided by juries.
In one filing last year, a former ranking Philadelphia prosecutor now working for the state Attorney General’s Office said letting new district attorneys invoke “prosecutorial discretion” to overturn past verdicts and decisions could lead to “chaos” in the courts.
“Each new prosecutor could quickly work to reverse every legal precedent of predecessors with whom he disagreed,” said the brief from Ronald Eisenberg, senior appellate counsel in the AG’s Office. “Thousands of convictions would be in jeopardy every four years; the law would be a seesaw.”
Asked to elaborate on the office’s stance on death-row appeals, Krasner’s spokesperson Ben Waxman said all post-trial decisions about whether or not to pursue the death penalty are considered by a committee within the District Attorney’s Office, which then makes a recommendation.
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