PA Supreme Court justice slams Soros-funded DA Krasner for abusive tactics to target officer

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – An extraordinary development occurred this past week that many in law enforcement hope is a quickening of the downward spiral for Philadelphia’s far-left, George Soros-funded district attorney, Larry Krasner.

State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, a Democrat, on July 20 charged DA Krasner with abusing the grand jury process in his crusade to indict former police officer Ryan Pownall for murder in a racially charged, officer-involved shooting.

 

Dougherty wrote in a concurring opinion that the district attorney’s office under Krasner has been “driven by a win-at-all-cost office culture” that “treats police officers differently than other criminal defendants.” Dougherty wrote:
“This is the antithesis of what the law expects of a prosecutor.”
Dougherty added that under the law, a prosecutor is supposed to be a “minister of justice.”
The formal admonishment was one of two losses Krasner, who is being threatened with impeachment by the state House of Representatives, suffered on the same day: In a 4-2 majority opinion, the state Supreme Court ruled against the DA’s office on a key issue in the Pownall case.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by the state Superior Court that said the DA’s office could not retroactively rewrite a law defining justifiable use of deadly force by a police officer so that former officer Pownall could then be convicted of murder.
In its unsuccessful appeals, the DA’s office attempted to circumvent the Pennsylvania statute which states:
“[A police officer is] justified in using deadly force only when he believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or such other person.”

The law further states:
“[The officer must believe] such force is necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape [or if the suspect] has committed or attempted a forcible felony or is attempting to escape and possesses a deadly weapon.”
That’s exactly what happened, said Derrick Jacobs, a detective who investigated the Pownall case on behalf of the Philadelphia Police Department.
The opinion of Det. Jacobs, who is black, was a problem for Krasner, who then tried to retroactively change the law so that he could prosecute officer Pownall.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Dougherty said the DA’s handling of the Pownall case was steeped in prosecutorial misconduct. Among the issues, the justice said, was the fact that Krasner’s office didn’t fully inform the grand jury of the law involving justifiable use of force by a police officer.

Because of that intentional omission, Justice Dougherty said, the grand jury produced a “slanted” report that Krasner’s office then fed to the media, which then published articles based on a biased version of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
The case began on June 8, 2017, when PPD officer Pownall was  transporting Terrence Freeman, a witness in another case, and his two children to the Special Victims Unit. While in transit, Pownall saw David Jones weaving in and out of traffic and otherwise driving recklessly on a dirt bike, which is not a street-legal vehicle.

Pownall pulled Jones over and during the stop frisked him for weapons. Pownall discovered a handgun in Jones’ waistband and a struggle ensued. Officer Pownall drew his sidearm and directed Jones not to touch his weapon. During the fight, Pownall attempted to fire on Jones but his gun jammed.

Jones then fled on foot and the officer fired three times, killing him.

Former Det. Jacobs spoke with Big Trial before the ruling and said Pownall acted within guidelines. Jacobs noted:

“Jones was armed.”
In addition, Jacobs said, during the fight between the two men:
“Pownall believed he was shooting Jones to protect himself and possibly Freeman and his children as well.” 

After the shooting, Pownall was fired by then-Police Commissioner Richard Ross. Krasner invoked social justice reform and charged Pownall with murder, to be held without bail.
It was the first time in 20 years that a Philadelphia police officer had been charged after a police shooting. A judge subsequently reduced the charge to third-degree murder and Pownall was released on bail.

In December 2019, Pownall filed a motion to quash the presentment on the basis that the DA’s office had “intentionally failed to notify the grand jury of the peace officer justification defense.”

In intentionally not informing the grand jury of the legal justification for the use of the deadly force, Pownall argued, Krasner’s office knew that “to do so would have prevented the grand jury from recommending criminal charges.”
Justice Dougherty wrote:
“However, the misconduct did not end there. The prosecution then asked the grand jury to return a presentment on homicide charges which included murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter, without defining any of those charges.”
Pownall’s lawyers argued in his motion:
“This grand jury had no idea that they would have to have found from the evidence that Pownall acted with premeditation for murder of the first degree, malice for any form of murder, a mistaken belief in self defense for voluntary manslaughter, or criminal recklessness for involuntary manslaughter.”
“This may be [the] first time in the history of Pennsylvania jurisprudence that a District Attorney requested a grand jury to authorize criminal charges without explaining the law that applies to those charges because to do so would have prevented a finding of probable cause.”

Justice Dougherty agreed. He wrote:

“In my view, if these allegations are true, as they appear to be, it implicates a potential abuse of the grand jury process.

“The grand jury must know what crimes it is to investigate. Yet, the DAO appears to have obtained a presentment in this case without providing the grand jury the definition for the crime that was actually charged in the subsequent complaint (third-degree murder), or the possible justification for that criminal offense.”

The justice further wrote:

“Moreover, by failing to provide the grand jury with all relevant legal instructions, it also necessarily raises questions about the completeness of the factual record the DAO presented to the grand jury.
“In short, by depriving the grand jury of the full panoply of relevant legal definitions, the DAO has exposed the grand jury’s resulting presentment to legitimate attack” by Pownall’s lawyers, the justice wrote.
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“In fact, given the circumstances, the presentment in this case is perhaps best characterized as a ‘foul blow,’ ” the justice wrote. “As discussed, the grand jury approved it without full knowledge of the pertinent law. That is disconcerting enough.

Justice Dougherty continued:

“Equally disturbing, though, is the presentment itself. It is thirteen pages long and includes an introduction, closing, and seventy-four purported factual findings. There is no discussion of the law, except for the recommended charges (which, again, do not include third-degree murder) listed on the final page.

“Also significant is the way the prosecution used the presentment. The DAO successfully moved to unseal it and then, after charging Pownall, directed the press to its purported factual findings.”
The media, led by The Philadelphia Inquirer, then did Krasner’s dirty work for him by excoriating Pownall as a racist murderer. The justice wrote:
“Not surprisingly, multiple news sources reported on the presentment’s one-sided account, with some even making the full document available online for anyone and everyone to read.”
But that’s not the way the system is supposed to work, the justice said. He explained:
“It is important to recall the Investigating Grand Jury Act defines a presentment merely as ‘[a] written formal recommendation . . . that specific persons be charged with specific crimes.’
“Nothing in this definition appears to endorse the type of gratuitous narrative provided in this case. Of course, it is anticipated that grand jury presentments will be somewhat biased.”
“Nevertheless, before endorsing the Commonwealth’s portrayal of a case, the grand jury must at a minimum be advised of the full breadth of the applicable law. That deficiency here renders the entire presentment suspect.”

The judge then blasted Krasner’s office for denying former officer Pownall a preliminary hearing. This is a common tactic of Krasner’s for any case involving a police officer as a defendant. Justice Dougherty wrote:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “One implication of this statement is that a preliminary hearing would have exposed the DAO’s questionable means of obtaining the grand jury’s presentment.

“Another is that it might have led to the dismissal of some or all charges. Regardless, it is disturbing that the DAO went to such lengths to deprive Pownall of his statutory right to a preliminary hearing.”

 

Justice Dougherty wrote that the prosecution’s motions to limit the evidence, “much like the legal instructions it gave to the investigating grand jury — presented only half the relevant picture.” He added:

“This type of advocacy would be worrisome coming from any litigant.”
He pointedly noted that “all attorneys have a duty of candor toward a tribunal.”
Justice Dougherty also stated that Krasner’s office manipulated court proceedings to challenge Pownall’s rights to use justifiable force, to which the trial court had also objected. He wrote:
“The trial court’s frustration was well founded, considering the DAO had more than a year and two months after Pownall’s arrest to file its motion, yet it chose to wait until only weeks before trial was set to begin.

“But the timing of the DAO’s motion was more than just frustrating: it also raises ethical concerns. Pownall filed his motion to quash the grand jury’s presentment on December 18, 2019. Instead of responding to the accusations raised in that motion, five days later, counsel for the DAO ‘made an unscheduled appearance’ in the trial court and demanded the court rule on its motion.”

He noted that the DA:
“Further warned the court it would take an immediate interlocutory appeal — with or without the court’s permission — should the court deny its motion.

“After the court did precisely that, the DAO followed through on its threat and filed the present improper appeal, thereby forestalling its need to answer Pownall’s grand jury allegations by divesting the court of jurisdiction over the case.

“When combined with the other tactics highlighted throughout this concurrence, a compelling argument may be made that the DAO’s decision to delay Pownall’s trial further by taking an unauthorized interlocutory appeal was intended to deprive him of a fair and speedy trial.”
The state Superior Court subsequently denied the DA’s unauthorized interlocutory appeal. Krasner’s office then appealed, and the state Supreme Court on July 20 upheld the Superior Court’s quashing of that unauthorized appeal.
It would be an understatement to say the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice was highly critical of how the DA’s office handled the Pownall case.
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Record murders, violence and general mayhem prompt Philly to pump up its defunded police budget by $23.7 million

April 19, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA – It’s been nearly two years since anti-police sentiment exploded, stoked by Democratic Party elites, following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Predictably, crime has surged in almost every major city across the United States, prompting calls for more law enforcement support.

One major city that raced to defund its police force was Philadelphia, an already crime-plagued, Democrat-run city. The last Republican to lead the city was Bernard Samuel, from 1941 to 1952.

John McNesby, who heads the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia, talked with Jeff Flock of FOX Business about a change in tune from city leaders as it looks to refund the force. McNesby said:

“You know, two years ago we were the walking disease around the country. Now, all of a sudden, people are realizing that all this reform, so-called reform is not working, and it’s time to let police do their jobs, enforce the laws.”

The city of Philadelphia has proposed an extra $23.7 million for officers in its most recent budget, bringing the total to $781.8 million for fiscal 2023. The increase would cover $1,500 bonuses for current officers, as well as pay increases over three years.

The renewed investment in law enforcement comes amid grim homicide statistics for the City of Brotherly Love. The city saw a record-high 562 homicides in 2021, up 58% from 356 homicides in 2019. There were 499 homicides in 2020, a 30-year high, with black residents accounting for 86% of those deaths.

The all-time record came as no surprise to McNesby, who noted the violence that unfolded over the weekend.

“Just since Thursday to today [April 18], we’ve had over 60 people shot. We’ve had half a dozen murders. Last night a home invasion. I mean, you know, you can’t make this up.”

Much of the problem could be laid at the doorstep of Philadelphia’s far-left, George Soros-backed district attorney. DA Larry Krasner’s  progressive policies are being widely criticized as crime shows no signs of slowing down. Yet Krasner was re-elected for a second term in November.

Krasner’s main tool in revamping the criminal-justice system is de-prosecution at every level of the process.  According to City Journal, a publication of the free-market think tank Manhattan Institute for Policy Research:
“He has reduced or eliminated misdemeanor drug and shoplifting offenses, but felony drug-dealing and weapons convictions have also dropped by more than half. Though the legislature has duly enacted laws criminalizing certain activities, and though the police have a duty to enforce the law, Krasner has declared that he simply will not prosecute certain crimes.
“The district attorney’s office reviews and then dismisses, modifies, or approves every arrest that the Philadelphia Police Department makes. Even if a case is approved for arrest, it may be dismissed at preliminary hearings, the first formal adversarial step in Philadelphia’s criminal-justice process.
“And even if a case makes it through charging approval and a preliminary hearing, it may be dismissed when it is called for trial. Krasner’s office has even dismissed cases after a jury conviction, and despite a judge’s misgivings.”

McNesby said:

“We have a district attorney in the city of Philadelphia who’s absolutely terrible. People are walking right out the back doors. He’s making sweetheart deals, cutting all kinds of stuff to make sure people do not go to prison.”

In a 30-year career as a civil rights attorney, Krasner sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times and has often asserted that law enforcement is “systemically racist.”

As frustration continues to boil over among city officials, law enforcement and residents, cities are finding it a challenge to recruit good men and women amid an unprecedented crime wave. McNesby explained:

“Again, it’s not a pretty job, and it’s a tough job right now, but I think slowly we’re making these changes, and it’s coming back, the pendulum switching back and hopefully the people will start seeing this job as more attractive.”

But in a town where Democrat voters outnumber Republican voters by three to one, the residents are getting just what they voted for. From City Journal:

“Hiring a prosecutor not to prosecute crimes may seem like hiring a firefighter to watch your house burn. But Krasner was elected in part because he promised to de-prosecute, and he has delivered. Now Philadelphians will decide whether his keeping that promise was worth it.”

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