Philadelphia’s district attorney-elect has named the leaders of his transition team, and the list of names includes several prominent political and criminal justice figures, including former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.
Larry Krasner, who is set to take over the office starting in January, released the names of 16 attorneys, politicians and labor leaders who he said will help him to shape his administration and the office that will be serving under him.
The two co-chairs of his team are retired Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, and Chris Woods, the executive vice president of District 1199C, National Union for Hospital and Healthcare Employees. Serving on the team as well are Castille, prominent defense attorney Michael Coard, Philadelphia’s managing director Michael DiBerardinis, city Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Charles Gibbs, president of the Philadelphia Barristers’ Association, among others.
Krasner said that so far discussions have taken place between the members in an effort to develop priorities on both the policy and administrative ends. He aims to have more formal directives from the leaders come Jan. 1.
“An organizational chart reflects what you value,” he said. “You’ve got to figure out what you want to go after and then wrap it around that.”
Not all of the names are surprises. Both Tasco and District 1199C endorsed Krasner during the race, but several are not expected, such as Castille. Castille is a Republican, and is not known for shying away from using the death penalty, which Krasner has promised to supporters he would no longer seek.
But Krasner, a Democrat who ran on a decidedly progressive platform, said his differences with Castille are part of why he chose to seek his advice.
“What I need is people with experience who are going to tell me honestly where they stand, and he’s reflective of that,” Krasner said.
Along with a strong representation from the criminal justice bar, Kranser’s team also includes several members the employment law bar, including Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores partner Patricia Pierce and Ryan Hancock of Willig, Williams & Davidson.
“You’ve got to be careful of who is let go and who you bring in,” he said, regarding the presence of employment attorneys. “That’s a priority when you’re trying to achieve culture change in an office that hasn’t changed orientation in three decades.”
He also touted Pierce’s work with Women Organized Against Rape and Hancock’s work regarding criminal expungement.
The team also includes Elizabeth Holtzman, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as district attorney of Brooklyn; Jeff Brown, who owns a chain of supermarkets and operates a program providing job training for former prisoners; former Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Engel Temin; University of Pennsylvania professor Marie Gottschalk; former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson; state Rep. Joanna McClinton; and Movita Johnson-Harrell, who is a victims’ advocate.
Krasner noted that he is also in talks with people within the District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Defenders’ Association, but he is declining to name them to avoid any issues of bias or conflicts after he takes over heading the office.
Although Krasner said much is still in the works, a central goal includes changing the priorities and culture from those stressed by Williams.
“Nobody cared about going after criminal pollution, or white-collar crime that involves rich people,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work. Transition doesn’t end when a district attorney’s term begins.”