Lots of developments over the weekend in the political fallout from revelations that Attorney General Kathleen Kane abandoned a sting operation that caught Philly Democrats taking undisclosed cash. The Inquirer printed two new stories expanding our knowledge of the details of the operation without offering much in the way of additional news — the same Democrats still caught on tape taking the same money, only at a granular level. Frank Fina, a Philadelphia prosecutor who started the sting operation while in the A.G.’s office, wrote an Inky op ed challenging Kane’s decisions. So did Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Kane offered her own op ed —but not in the Inquirer, which she may sue: She went to the Patriot-News instead.
The Inquirer reports that Philly D.A. Seth Williams is running for a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees. “Elected last fall to his second four-year term as D.A., Williams acknowledged his Philadelphia job is time-consuming. But he is undeterred by the time and travel he would have to put in as an unpaid trustee of the State College-based school. The board holds two days of meetings at least a half-dozen times a year, and there are additional sessions, such as last week’s meeting to hire a new president. ‘They say if you want something to get done, give it to a busy person,’ Williams said.” There are three open seats on the 32-member board.
D.A. Seth Williams and Sen. Pat Toomey have both weighed in against President Obama’s pick of Debo Adegbile to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Adegibile, earlier in his career, defended convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Juamal.
The Daily News reports that former D.A. Lynne Abraham and current D.A. Seth Williams apparently haven’t smoothed over their rocky relationship. Williams’ remarks about the arrest of Rep. J.P. Miranda — saying prosecutors “will no longer abdicate our responsibility to investigate” political corruption — were interpreted as a swipe at Abraham, his predecessor and onetime mentor.
Who was not impressed:
The lawyer for Monsignor William J. Lynn, the former Archdiocese of Philadelphia official currently free on bail after his landmark 2012 conviction on child endangerment charges was overturned last week, has blasted D.A. Seth Williams for criticizing the appeals court’s ruling.
A federal judge has overturned the conviction of a man who’s been on death row for the past 21 years, finding that his conviction in the death of a teenager killed over her earrings was based on “scant evidence at best.”
That conviction was dismissed late Wednesday by a federal judge in a scathing ruling, but not before James Dennis had served two decades on death row.
“When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it. When the lawyer called, I was on my feet. I was dancing. I was giving God the praise, because this is something we have been praying for from day one,” said Dennis’ mother, Juanita Dennis.
Chedell Ray Williams, 17, a student at Olney High School, was killed in October 1991 by two men who demanded her $450 earrings. Dennis was the only person ever charged with the crime.
The weapon used in the shooting and the earrings were never recovered and police found no forensic evidence against Dennis. His conviction was based on testimony from three eyewitnesses, although other witnesses had said the shooter was taller and weighed more.
Brody in her 40-page opinion said police never told the defense about evidence that might have led in other directions. As one example, a girl who was with Williams told relatives she recognized the killers from school and knew their nicknames.
The victim’s mother, Barbara Williams, was disturbed upon hearing the news in the case from a Daily News reporter. “I’m really disappointed about that with all that’s going on with so many kids that are getting shot the same way my daughter was,” she said.
District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision, saying Dennis’ lawyers presented “slanted factual allegations.” Williams said his office will consider whether to retry Dennis.
You can read the judge’s entire ruling here:
After I published excerpts from this anonymous anti-Seth Williams letter that was sent to employees of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, I found out about another anti-Seth Williams letter. This one was sent to members of the Public Defender’s office.
To me it seems obvious that the letters share an author with a strange sense of humor as well as a peculiar fondness for early-’80s Who songs, and this second letter makes allegations similar to those in the first.