Archive for February, 2018

DA Krasner Welcomes President Obama’s DOJ Appointee Robert L. Listenbee to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office

February 28, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 28, 2018) – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced that he has appointed Robert L. Listenbee, Esq. as First Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

Listenbee, who was appointed as the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) by President Barack Obama, will bring his operational expertise and experience working at the local, state, and national levels on juvenile and criminal justice issues to the newly created position. Judge Carolyn Engel Temin and Listenbee will both serve as First Assistant District Attorney’s with distinct operational and legal portfolios.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is lucky to have two First Assistant District Attorneys whose talents and expertise are so complementary and so weighty. By having Robert Listenbee, who distinguished himself in the Obama administration as part of my team, we will be able to add more capacity to everything we do from juvenile justice issues to supporting the communities we serve to offering our city’s most vulnerable citizens a helping hand.”

“The City of Philadelphia has always been home to me, and having the opportunity to join the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as DA Krasner’s First Assistant, as he embarks on one of the most consequential reform efforts of any district attorney’s office in the nation, is not just an honor, but is beyond exciting,” said First Assistant Robert Listenbee. “There is something special happing here in Philadelphia, and I’m ready to take what I’ve learned from my time at the Defender’s Association and in the Obama Administration and apply it to Philadelphia’s justice system to make it fairer and more effective.”

As the Administrator of OJJDP (March 2013 to Jan. 2017) Listenbee supervised an annual budget of more than $265 million dollars and a staff of 70 full-time employees. His primary focus was to address the core protections outlined in the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, reduce out-of-home youth placements, and oversee the nation’s juvenile justice system by creating evidence based practices and programs. Some of the initiatives that he championed were halting youth violence, ending the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and reducing the involvement of girls, Hispanic youth, and LGBTQ-GNC youth in the nation’s juvenile justice system. During his time at the OJJDP Listenbee partnered with the Department of Education to enhance correctional education in residential placement programs, worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop programs to expunge juvenile records and eliminate barriers to successful re-entry, played a central role in the U.S. Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, and co-chaired the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children’s Exposure to Violence which developed recommendations for launching a coordinated national campaign to address children’s exposure to violence.

Before joining the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) Listenbee focused on juvenile justice reform policy and worked to improve support for juveniles in the juvenile justice and welfare systems as a Stoneleigh Foundation Visiting Fellow at Drexel University. The Stoneleigh Foundation is dedicated to supporting the Philadelphia region’s vulnerable youth, by awarding fellowships to leading practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to study and implement meaningful change.

“During his tenure as a Stoneleigh Foundation Visiting Fellow, Bob Listenbee has been extraordinarily productive, serving as a bridge builder and strengthening collaboration among Philadelphia’s youth-serving systems,” said Ronnie L. Bloom, Executive Director of the Stoneleigh Foundation. “In this new role at the Office of the District Attorney, Bob will be uniquely positioned to apply these skills and help Philadelphia become a model for how prosecutors can work alongside community stakeholders toward a common aim of justice.”

Listenbee worked at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, rising to Chief of the Juvenile Unit (Sept. 1986 to March 2013). As a trial attorney, he handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony cases in juvenile and criminal courts, in addition to jury trials. As Chief and Assistant Chief of the Juvenile Unit, Listenbee worked closely with the Chief Defender to enhance access to counsel and the quality of representation for youth in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. He lead the effort to obtain over $2 million in grant funds from governmental organizations and private foundations to support innovations within the Juvenile Unit. Listenbee stablished an Investigations Unit with full and part-time investigators, built a Juvenile Special Cases Section that handled sex assault cases, established a training program which provided support for juvenile defenders across the Commonwealth and enhanced initiatives to divert cases to diversion programs.

Listenbee has served on numerous committees on the local, state, and national levels including as a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice in response to the Luzerne County “kids for cash” scandal. He was also instrumental in creating the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania.

He received the Defender of Children’s Rights Award from the the National Juvenile Defender Center (2017), the Outstanding Service Award from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (2017), a Special Recognition Award For Exemplary Service in Juvenile Justice Reform from the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (2011), and the Champion for Change Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (2011).

Listenbee is also an author, lecturer, and justice system policy expert. He has a Bachelor of Arts (1972) from Harvard University in Political Science and his Juris Doctor (1978) from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, CA.

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Larry Krasner Announces End to Cash Bail in Philadelphia for Low-Level Offenses

February 21, 2018

Effort marks the first, of an ongoing review of cash bail

PHILADELPHIA (February 21, 2018) – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced, effective immediately, that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) will no longer ask for cash bail for low-level offenses. The new policy marks a decisive step towards making the city’s pre-trial system fairer for the poor and for people of color.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “There is absolutely no reason why someone who will show up for court, is not a flight risk, and is no threat to their neighbors and community, needs to sit in jail for days because they can’t post a small amount of bail. It’s simply not fair. We don’t imprison the poor for poverty. This new cash bail policy will not only save the taxpayers money by allowing low-level defendants to maintain their freedom, but it will begin to level the economic and racial playing field in our courtrooms.”

“Through our collaborative efforts under the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, as well as numerous other initiatives, we as a City are creating a more fair and efficient justice system,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “DA Krasner’s new policy to recommend against cash bail for low-level offenders is a significant step in that direction. This effort has the potential to reduce collateral consequences for those charged with low level offenses, and represents Philadelphia’s shift towards reducing or eliminating cash bail. We look forward to discussing how these changes will be applied and implemented by the District Attorney’s Office.”

After a review of all the requests for bail associated with lead charges filed in the First Judicial District (FJD) Municipal Courts over the last five years, DA Krasner has instructed Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) in the office to no longer request cash bail for defendants charged with one of the 25 specific charges (a detailed list is attached). These offenses represent approximately half of all lead charges applied over the past five years.

“I see cash bail as a medieval tool that exists in our modern criminal justice system. It’s a relic, and it increases the likelihood of future recidivism by almost nine percent. We in Philadelphia City Council recently passed a resolution about reforming cash bail, so we’re overwhelmingly supportive of the new policy, and I can tell you that I’ll do everything I can to expand fairness in the City of Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th Council District).

When a defendant is charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver (PWID) a substance other than marijuana, the DAO will consider the following factors to determine if bail will or will not be requested:

  • If the weight of the drugs is greater than 2.5g of heroin, 5g of cocaine/crack, 12.5 g of methamphetamine/PCP/amphetamine, or 5g of any other schedule I/II narcotic;
  • There is evidence of the presence of fentanyl;
  • The defendant has received two or more bench warrants in the past five years;
  • The defendant has one or more open PWID, violent felony, or gun-related case; and
  • The defendant has finished serving a PWID sentence in the last two years, a violent felony in the past five years, or a gun-related case in the past five years.

More than likely, if one or more of the above factors apply, bail requests will then be evaluated on a case by case basis.

In the FJD, and after a defendant is taken into custody, a hearing typically takes place in front of a Bail Commissioner, where the ADA requests a certain level of bail. For these 25 lead charges, nearly one in four defendants received bail between $0 and $10,000, which could keep them in pre-trial custody. Now, one of the following methods will be used:

  • Released on Recognizance;
  • Released on Special Conditions (this kind of release involves some pre-arranged communication between the defendant and FJD Pre-Trial Services before trial); or
  • Signed on Bond (a promise to pay an unsecured bail if the defendant violates their release).

ADAs will continue to have discretion to ask for monetary bail in exceptional circumstances. For example, cases where a defendant is charged with a string of crimes, such as burglaries or thefts, or who have multiple DUIs in a short period of time, may be given cash bail despite the presumption against it. The office’s new policy follows.

 

Breakdown of Charges no Longer Requiring Cash Bail

  • Access Device Fraud;
  • Burglary F2- Not for Overnight Accommodation, No Person Present;
  • Contraband;
  • Criminal Mischief;
  • DUI;
  • Forgery;
  • Fraud in Obtaining Food Stamps/Public Assistance;
  • Identity Theft;
  • Intentional Possession of a Controlled Substance;
  • Paraphernalia;
  • Possession of Marijuana;
  • Possession with Intent to Deliver (marijuana, 5lbs or under);
  • Possession with Intent to Deliver (non-marijuana, subject to listed caveats);
  • Prostitution;
  • Providing False Identification to Law Enforcement;
  • Retail Theft;
  • Resisting Arrest;
  • Receiving Stolen Property (not graded as F2);
  • Theft by Deception or False Impression;
  • Theft by Unlawful Taking (not graded as F2);
  • Theft from Motor Vehicle (not graded as F2);
  • Trademark Counterfeiting;
  • Trespass (non-residential);
  • Unlawful Purchase of a Controlled Substance (BFP); and
  • Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

 

Policy Memorandum from the District Attorney

Effective February 21, 2018, the District Attorney will ordinarily no longer ask for cash bail for the following misdemeanors and felonies. All representatives of the District Attorney will be expected to abide by this presumption.  Where justice requires, there is discretion to go against this presumption.

The cash bail system is rife with injustice and exacerbates socio-economic and racial inequalities, disproportionately penalizing the poor and people of color.  The reforms laid out below represent a decisive step toward ending the use of cash bail and making the pretrial system more just.

 

All representatives of the District Attorney should presume that they will no longer seek cash bail on the following charges:

  • (35-780-113-A16 Intentional Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • (75-3802) DUI
  • (18-3929) Retail Theft
  • (35-780-113-A19) Unlawful Purchase of a Controlled Substance (BFP)
  • (35-780-113-A3) Possession of Marijuana
  • (18-3921) Theft by Unlawful Taking (not graded as F2)
  • (18-5902) Prostitution
  • (18-3925) Receiving Stolen Property (not graded as F2)
  • (18-3304) Criminal Mischief
  • (18-4101) Forgery
  • (18-3502) Burglary F2- Not for Overnight Accommodation, No Person Present
  • (18-3503) Trespass (non-residential)
  • (18-3934) Theft from Motor Vehicle (not graded as F2)
  • (18-3922) Theft by Deception or False Impression
  • (18-5104) Resisting Arrest
  • (18-3928) Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
  • (35-780-113-A320) Paraphernalia
  • (18-5123) Contraband
  • (18-4914) Providing False Identification to Law Enforcement
  • (62-481) Fraud in Obtaining Foodstamps/Public Assistance
  • (18-4120) Identity Theft
  • (18-4119) Trademark Counterfeiting
  • (18-4106)  Access Device Fraud
  • (35-780-113-A30) PWID-Marijuana (5lbs or under)

 

Special Conditions for PWID Cases (Other than Marijuana)

Where a defendant is charged with possession with the intent to deliver a substance other than marijuana, the presumption against monetary bail applies, except in any of the following circumstances:

  • The weight of drugs possessed is greater than:
    • Heroin: 5g
    • Cocaine/Crack: 5g
    • Methamphetamine/PCP/Amphetamine: 5g
    • Other schedule I/II narcotic: 5g
  • There is evidence of the presence of fentanyl
  • The defendant has received two or more bench warrants in the past five years
  • The defendant has one or more open cases of:
    • PWID
    • A violent felony or
    • VUFA/PIC (gun)
  • A defendant has finished serving a sentence for:
    • PWID in the last 2 years
    • A violent felony in the past 5 years
    • VUFA or PIC (gun) in the past 5 years

 

Discretion:

In the above cases where the presumption applies, representatives of the District Attorney should generally recommend R.O.R.

While a presumption against cash bail applies in the above cases, representatives will continue to have discretion to ask for monetary bail where justice requires.  For example, cases where a defendant is charged with a string of crimes, such as burglaries or thefts, or who have multiple DUIs in a short period of time, may be given cash bail despite the presumption against it.  A significant history of recent flight may also suggest detention.

 

For all cases not subject to the above policy, representatives of the District Attorney should continue to evaluate bail requests on a case by case basis.

This policy will also apply to bail reduction motions in preliminary hearing and trial rooms, and in Motions Court.

 

Larry Krasner Announces Opioid Lawsuit Under Commonwealth’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws

February 15, 2018

FOR IMMIEDATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Ben Waxman, 215-686-8711, benjamin.waxman@phila.gov
Larry Krasner Announces Opioid Lawsuit Under Commonwealth’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws

PHILADELPHIA (February 15, 2018) – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced the filing of a lawsuit against ten pharmaceutical companies, under the Commonwealth’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws, for their role in creating the city’s opioid epidemic. The filing, which was made in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, was filed on Feb. 2, 2018.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “The City of Philadelphia has been hurt, more than any other city in the nation, by the scourge of opioids. The time to act is now, which is why I’ve taken this unprecedented action, in parallel with the City of Philadelphia’s suit, to stop these companies from systematically distracting the public from knowing the true dangers of opioid use as they reap billions of dollars in profits.”

The defendants in the lawsuit are: Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Allergan Finance, LLC; Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Johnson & Johnson.
“The City of Philadelphia certainly needs to address the health and treatment aspects of the opioid crisis, because it is devastating our neighborhoods – especially the residents of Kensington and Fairhill, but it also needs to stop the flow of these addictive drugs into our homes,” said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. QuiñonesSánchez. “This lawsuit, and the one filed by the City of Philadelphia are a good start, which is why I’m proud to support District Attorney Krasner’s efforts today and am happy to stand with him as we work to stop the pipeline of addiction.”

The lawsuit is designed to recover some of the extraordinary costs that the City of Philadelphia and its citizens have had to bear because of the opioid epidemic. The Consumer Protection Law authorizes either the PA Attorney General or a PA County District Attorney to sue in the name of the Commonwealth if they believe that a manufacturer is using, or planning to use, certain unfair or deceptive practices prohibited by law.

“I have seen first-hand the devastation caused by opioids, and the deadly path that leads users to heroin addiction,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD, MPH. “This is a public health crisis. So, it’s time for these companies to help us solve the problem that they have in part caused.”

There are currently sixteen separate lawsuits that have been filed by different counties in Pennsylvania against opioid manufacturers, including one recently filed by the City of Philadelphia. Krasner’s lawsuit is unique because it is the first of its kind filed by a county district attorney under the Consumer Protection Law.

“I’d like to thank Mayor Kenney’s Opioid Task Force and the team of outside, expert attorneys who are working with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on this case, added Krasner.

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of over 75,000 criminal cases annually.

 

District Attorney Larry Krasner to announce major consumer protection lawsuit

February 14, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 14, 2018

CONTACT:

Ben Waxman, 215-686-8711, benjamin.waxman@Phila.gov

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 14, 2018) – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will be joined by public officials and community advocates as he announces a major consumer protection lawsuit designed to hold accountable those who have threatened the health and welfare of the City of Philadelphia.

WHO:              Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney

WHERE:

Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office

Ray Harley Training Room

3 S. Penn Square

Philadelphia, PA 19107

WHEN:          

Feb. 15, 2018 at 2 p.m.