The Democratic Candidates for Philly District Attorney: An Unbiased Overview

(The original document highlights the platform stances unique to the candidate in yellow and stances held by one or more candidates in green)

[X] – designates promises that require change in law/state policy and cannot be implemented solely by the District Attorney

 

Teresa Carr-Deni

 

Education:

Undergrad: Temple

Law: Temple

 

Background:

  • Municipal Court judge for the last 21 years (won a 6-year retention vote in 2013, meaning she will remain a judge if she loses the DA race)
  • Spent 10 years as a criminal defense attorney before she became judge in 1996
  • Opened a feminist bookstore in 1975
  • Focused on international studies in school but after graduation became passionate about local politics
  • Father was a union guy involved with local politics

 

Platform:

  • Wants to throw out cases in which stop and frisk was used at the time of arrest
  • Wants public pot smoking and public drinking to reap the same punishment
  • Wants to “redesign – if not dismantle” civil forfeiture (where the DA’s Office confiscates belongings and property of criminals, many times before convictions)
  • Would like to focus on restorative justice (victim/offender dialogue, although this already an established and successful program)
  • Wants a more “inclusive office” – more women, people of color, etc.
  • Reinstate conviction review unit
  • Supports sanctuary city policy

 

 

The Controversial Stuff:

  • Received bad press around 2007 for refusing to approve rape charges for a case in which a group of men forced a prostitute to have sex with them when she had only agreed to have sex with one of them
  • Defends ward leaders and their involvement in Philadelphia politics
  • Many of her promises – restorative justice, a diverse office, multilingual speakers, victim services – already exist. 2/3rds of the supervisory positions in the DA’s Office are held by women, and the office itself has over 20 multilingual employees.

 

 

Jack O’Neill

 

Education

Undergrad: Rutgers

Law: Florida State

 

Background

  • Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia’s DA Office for 9 years. Spent the last few years in the Family Violence/Sexual Assault Unit and the Homicide Unit.
  • Has been working for a private law firm in Cherry Hill for the past 2 years, well known for defending police officers in criminal and civil suits.
  • Started the Focused Deterrence program which tracked the sales and use of firearms throughout the city. This program is credited with decreasing gang-related fatal shootings in South Philadelphia by 70%
  • Has worked closely with homicide and sexual assault victim advocate groups

 

Platform

  • Wants to expand diversionary programs
  • End cash-bail system for non-violent or low-level offenders [X]
  • Decrease use of detainer sentences for non-violent or low-level offenders
  • Lessen punishments for drug offenders/stop criminalizing addiction [X]
  • Assign ADA’s to victims of domestic violence at the time of arrest
  • Wants to appoint a labor liaison in the office to represent labor unions
  • Decrease or eliminate use of civil forfeiture
  • Eliminate stop-and-frisk
  • Wants to expose and prosecute corruption
  • Supports sanctuary city policy

 

 

The Controversial Stuff:

  • The youngest candidate with the least experience but the most experience as a city prosecutor
  • Endorsed and largely funded by labor unions (controversy depends on who’s asking)
  • Focused Deterrence has been criticized by some as being racist
  • Rumored that this is just a stepping stone for a longer political career

 

 

 

Rich Negrin

 

Education

Undergrad: Wagner

Law: Rutgers

 

Background

  • Worked as an Assistant District Attorney from 1995-2000
  • Managing Director of the City under Mayor Nutter from 2010-2016
  • Has worked in the private sector since leaving his city manager job, and had a stint at the well-known ARAMARK corporation
  • Played in the NFL as a lineman with the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets
  • Outspoken activist for gun violence prevention
  • While Managing Director, oversaw the Innovation office and piloted community-focused programs
  • On the board of CeaseFire, a program made up of ex-offenders who work to decrease gun violence

 

Platform

  • Wants to focus on getting guns off the streets
  • Wants to expand diversionary programs
  • Wants to lessen punishment for drug crimes [X]
  • Wants to reform bail system [X]
  • Thinks the DA’s Office needs to be more innovative
  • Opposes city’s sanctuary city policy

 

The Controversial Stuff

  • Endorsed by the FOP (controversy depends on who’s asking)
  • “Establishment” candidate
  • Only practiced as a prosecutor for 5 years – never tried a homicide or sexual assault case
  • More tough on crime than the rest
  • Thinks the fact that his dad was murdered is relevant to his prosecutorial abilities
  • Rumored that this is stepping stone before running for mayor

 

 

Larry Krasner

 

Education

Undergrad: University of Chicago

Law: Stanford

 

Background

  • Worked for the Federal Defenders Office from 1987-1993
  • Started private law firm in 1993. He has worked as a defense attorney on many different cases, from homicides and rapes to protestors and victims of police brutality. He became well known for representing LeSean McCoy after a brawl with off-duty police officers before charges were dropped by the DA’s Office.
  • Has represented many protest groups, including Black Lives Matter

 

Platform

  • Wants to eliminate cash bail [X]
  • Eliminate stop-and-frisk
  • Thinks that the DA’s Office has a “toxic environment” and “sports mentality” which encourages ADA’s to blindly prosecute defendants, and has promised to remove certain ADA’s and supervisors if elected
  • Wants to end civil forfeiture
  • Wants to make sure ADA’s are charging lying witnesses with perjury
  • Wants to end the criminalization of addiction [X]
  • Wants to expand diversion programs
  • Wants to expose and prosecute corruption and police violence
  • Opposed to death penalty in all cases (sort of [X])
  • Supports sanctuary city policy

 

The Controversial Stuff

  • Has never worked as a prosecutor
  • Received $1.45 million from liberal, out-of-state financier George Soros. It should be noted that Soros first offered this to the current Public Defender if she chose to ran, but she publically declined
  • Is known within the victim advocacy community as a defense attorney who has represented rapists and aggressively cross-examined victims on the stand
  • Threatens to fire career ADA’s

 

 

Joe Khan

 

Education

Undergrad: Swarthmore

Law: University of Chicago

 

Background:

  • Worked as an ADA in the Philadelphia DA’s Office for 6 years
  • Worked as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia for 10 years
  • Currently a lecturer at Penn’s Law School and works at a private firm
  • As a federal prosecutor, he prosecuted political corruption, human trafficking, charter school fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering cases.
  • Familiar with and within sexual assault victim advocacy groups

 

Platform

  • Focus on at-risk children in schools and eliminating school-to-prison pipeline
  • Create task force focused on resolving issue of lead paint exposure
  • Focus on charter school fraud and advocate for public schools
  • Create smarter re-entry programs for parolees [X]
  • End civil forfeiture
  • Wants to expand diversion courts
  • Supports death penalty in extreme cases
  • Eliminate cash bail system [X]
  • End stop-and-frisk
  • Expose police brutality
  • Supports sanctuary city policy

 

 

The Controversial Stuff

  • Has launched a negative media campaign against Untermeyer
  • An “establishment” candidate
  • Outspoken about the fact that the DA cannot just lower sentences
  • Likened himself to Obama at a debate

 

Tariq El-Shabazz

 

Education

Undergrad: Hofstra

Law: University of Baltimore

 

Background

  • Worked for five years as an ADA in the Philadelphia DA’s Office
  • Left the DA’s Office for private practice. He worked mostly as a defense attorney.
  • Also has experience as a television legal analyst
  • Worked as Seth Williams’ First Deputy for 7 months before stepping down to run for DA.

 

Platform

  • End stop-and-frisk
  • Expand diversion programs
  • Implement bail reform [X]
  • Create “pre-entry” programs in addition to re-entry programs
  • Expand probation and parole system [X]
  • Stop programs like Focused Deterrence that focus on race as a dependent variable of crime

 

The Controversial Stuff

  • Has $190,000+ in tax liens
  • Accused of poor representation of clients and lying to the court
  • Only worked in the DA’s Office for 7 months and left shortly before Seth Williams was indicted on federal charges
  • Not well known within community activism or victim advocacy groups

 

 

Michael Untermeyer

 

Education

Undergrad: Sarah Lawrence

Law: Rutgers

 

Background

  • Arguably the most diverse legal background: worked as an ADA in Philadelphia, for the Attorney General, the Liquor Control Board, Inspector General, a city law department in New York, and most recently in private practice.
  • First job was driving an ambulance when he was 18
  • Successful real estate developer
  • Ran for DA as a Republican in 2009
  • Prosecuted narcotics rings, money laundering and financial crimes
  • Volunteered time and resources to those affected by the housing crisis in 2008
  • Involved in housing issues, homelessness, and natural disaster response

 

Platform

  • Eliminate cash bail [X]
  • Fix civil asset forfeiture
  • Reinstate conviction review unit
  • Streamline juvenile lifer resentencing
  • End stop-and-frisk
  • Pursue white collar crime
  • Fight elder abuse
  • Implement Seattle’s pre-arrest program
  • Aid homicide detectives to improve clearance rate
  • Create unit for prosecution of law enforcement crimes

 

The Controversial Stuff

  • Has spent almost $1 million on his own campaign
  • Switched parties to run in this race – but was originally a Democrat before running for DA in 2009
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