A Lesson for Seth Williams in Kathleen Kane’s Abandoned Sting


Let’s give Seth Williams a round of applause.

I’m not being facetious here. Williams’ decision to take Kathleen Kane’s “double-dog dare” last year and pursue charges against Philly Democrats caught on tape accepting cash and gifts has been a triumph on several counts: Politically, he’s come across as a stalwart prosecutor and made Kane look feckless by comparison. His decision has also been a small-but needed-victory over the everyday corruption most of us assume pervades this city’s politics.

But the experience offers a lesson Williams almost certainly doesn’t want to learn.  Read more »

The Brief: Happy Ballot Challenge Season!


We’ve officially entered that most wonderful time of year: Ballot Challenge Season.

To get on the May 19th primary ballot, a candidate running for citywide office in Philadelphia must get at least 1,000 voters to sign their nomination petitions. That paperwork must be filed by today, March 10th.

But the signatures can’t come from just anyone: They must be from registered voters of the candidate’s party. Each voter must write out their full name, address and the date on the petition, in addition to their signature. If any of these items are missing or somehow flawed, a candidate is leaving themselves open to a legal challenge from another campaign. Because why beat the competition in an open election when you can eliminate them beforehand?

Read more »

More Sting Charges Expected

Williams Kane

The “double-dog dare” continues to backfire on Kathleen Kane.

Nearly a year after the attorney general invited Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams — one of her loudest critics — to try to prosecute the “abandoned sting” of corrupt Philly lawmakers she had decided not to prosecute, despite having recordings of those lawmakers accepting gifts that were never reported to the state. Williams gleefully accepted the offer and not long after started cranking out the prosecutions.

He’ll add three more names to that list today at a news conference where he’ll announce charges against “two current and one former” state representatives. He did not name them, but the Inquirer and Daily News identified the three as State Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee and former State Rep. Harold James, all Democrats from Philly. Read more »

Philadelphia Customs Agent Arrested for Stealing from Deportees

Justin Ford, Philadelphia Police Department mugshot

Justin Ford, Philadelphia Police Department mugshot

On February 24th, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Justin Ford met with Philadelphia police to take a prisoner facing deportation into custody and transfer him to York County Prison. But what he didn’t know is that the prisoner was actually an undercover Philadelphia police officer. Read more »

Court to Hear Challenge to Death Penalty Moratorium



The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear Philly D.A. Seth Williams’ challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on executions, the court said Tuesday.

“In a brief order, the justices said they want to hear arguments about whether they should have taken up the matter at all, along with briefs that lay out the legal issues in the underlying dispute,” AP reports. Read more »

What Seth Williams Didn’t Say About Civil Forfeiture

Christos Sourovelis and the house he'll get to keep. The D.A.'s office in December dropped its effort to seize the home.

Christos Sourovelis and the house he’ll get to keep. The DA’s office in December dropped its effort to seize the home.

There’s probably a good case to be made for the civil forfeiture system — in which authorities seize money and property they believe has been used in drug crimes and use it for their own purposes — but District Attorney Seth Williams didn’t quite make it Sunday with his op-ed in the Inquirer. Read more »

The Brief: No Peace for the SRC

Green Williams Clarke

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved five out of 39 applications for new charter schools yesterday night at the tail end of a meeting that featured four arrests and lasted five hours. The decision appeared to please no one. One prominent national ed reformer called on SRC Chairman Bill Green to resign, for not approving enough charter applicants. Pretty much simultaneously, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten condemned the decision to approve any new charter schools. Gov. Wolf issued a statement saying his administration “continues to believe that the district’s financial situation cannot responsibly handle the approval of new charter schools.” We haven’t heard yet from Republicans in the General Assembly, but you can bet they would like to have seen more new charters than the five the SRC authorized. Read more »

Seth Williams, Risa Ferman Slam Tom Wolf Over PA Death Penalty Moratorium

Gov. Wolf. | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Wolf. | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

On Friday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf — less than a month into his new job — issued a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania, saying that it is “error prone, expensive and anything but infallible.” (You can read the full memorandum below.) The Philadelphia and Montgomery County district attorneys were quick to issue statements condemning Wolf’s decision. Read more »

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