By CBS3’s Greg Argos and KYW Newsradio’s Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has found a new lawyer.
During a court appearance Friday afternoon that lasted less than five minutes, it was revealed Tom Burke will be representing Williams now.
Williams’ previous attorney, Michael Diamondstein, wanted off the case over concerns that the district attorney couldn’t afford him.
Burke, a former assistant district attorney in the Homicide Unit, told the judge he was in it for the long haul.
“Short of my death or being beat up by aliens, I’m in for the long haul,” Burke told the judge.
Outside the courthouse, Williams was briskly escorted to a waiting SUV, with a heckler on his tail.
Burke gave a brief statement to reporters following the hearing.
“I’ve carefully reviewed the indictment, and note that it is devoid of a single allegation that a quid pro quo took place,” said Burke.
Burke also said Williams is temporarily suspending his law license pending the outcome of the investigation. Williams will stay on in an administrative role at the District Attorney’s Office.
“Today, District Attorney Williams took the step of agreeing to a temporary suspension of his law license pending the outcome of this case. He will remain in office in an administrative capacity only,” Burke said.
That decision will allow Williams to continue to collect his more than $175,000 yearly salary.
“Since District Attorney Williams has assumed office in January of 2010, his office has prosecuted more than 500,000 cases. The indictment does not contain a single allegation that the outcome of a single case prosecuted by my client’s office was affected,” Burke said.
State campaign finance records show Burke has contributed more than $1,500 to Williams’ 2010 run for district attorney, but would not comment about those donations when asked.
Williams is due back in court on Monday.
Williams has pleaded not guilty to charges of taking more than $100,000 in cash and gifts.
Williams has not resigned despite calls from Mayor Jim Kenney and the Bar Association.