Who’s to Fill Seth’s Shoes?

Filed under: Featured News,Government,Latest News,Politics |

BY RYAN BRIGGS
District Attorney Seth Williams has taken a stunning mid-trial plea deal on a single corruption count and now faces up to five years in prison.

Last Thursday morning’s plea, which was made in tandem with Williams’ immediate resignation as the city’s top la- enforcement official, ends a years-long saga that covered wild campaign spending and charges of influence-peddling. But the city must now grapple with the ramifications of a DA abruptly leaving office.

Williams’s sudden departure has triggered an unusual judicial appointment process to select a successor.

“It hasn’t happened since 1991,” said campaign lawyer Adam Bonin, referring to one-time Court of Common Pleas Judge Lynne Abraham’s appointment after then-DA Ron Castille resigned to run for mayor. “Basically, the statute says the judges of the Court of Common Pleas will convene and appoint a ‘competent person.’”

On paper, the 80-member “Board of Judges” will convene, review applicants and ultimately vote to appoint a successor to fill out the remainder of Williams’ term.

But which candidates appear before the board is an open-ended question. Although extremely unlikely, even primary favorites like Larry Krasner, a Democrat and longtime defense attorney, or Beth Grossman, a Republican and former ADA, could theoretically submit applications. Another possibility is that Kathleen Martin, the former chief of staff who is acting as interim DA, could remain in the post until the new DA takes office.

“There’s nothing in the statute about an interview process or self-nomination. The process of presenting candidates is really up to President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper,” Bonin said.

Woods-Skipper did not immediately return a call for comment.

In February, City & State PA reported Judges Leon Tucker, Dan McCaffery and Ben Lerner had all squeezed Congressman and Democratic Party kingpin Bob Brady for his support in replacing Williams via appointment. That was before Williams had been indicted by federal prosecutors or even announced he would not seek re-election.

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