PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s new district attorney revealed his first round of hires Tuesday. The announcement comes days after more than 30 people were asked to resign.
DA Larry Krasner took questions from reporters and also introduced five of his new top supervisors. The list includes Arun Prabakharan, a former VP of the Urban Affairs Coalition who will serve as Krasner’s Chief of Staff; Mike Lee, Esq., co-founder of Lawyers for Social Equity who will serve as Interim Director of Legislation and Nancy Winkelman, a former partner of the Schnader Harrison law firm who will serve as the Interim DA Supervisor Office’s Law Department. Krasner says all of the posts will be on an “interim” basis to help change the culture of the office.READ MORE: Police Arrest Kareem Welton For Several Hit-And-Runs In Philadelphia, Including Crash That Killed Woman In Center City
“We’re going to have a situation in which a supervisor never gets too out of touch with the daily activity and challenges of the people they supervise,” he says, “and they are also aware that the people they supervising today may supervise them in two years.”
Krasner also named social worker Movita Johnson Harell, who’s son Charles was murdered seven years ago, as the Interim Supervisor of Victim’s Services. Anthony Voci, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney will serve as the Interim Chief of the Homicide Unit. Voci’s unit, which usually is staffed with 20 lawyers, currently has a few vacancies after more than 30 DA office employees were asked to leave. Krasner says some of the lawyers from other units have been elevated to fill the void, creating excitement within the office.
“There is enthusiasm,” says Krasner when asked about morale.
Krasner says he’s identified a total of 40 individuals to join the office. Some will be coming from national searches or from outside Philadelphia and will require time to relocate.
Krasner says his team vetted judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others to determine who within the DA’s office should be asked to leave. He says he used the same process to decide who should be promoted and/or moved to new positions. His team also reviewed resumes from prosecutors and others from around the country.READ MORE: Montgomery County Summer Camp Closes Due To Coronavirus Outbreak
“To make sure we bring in some new blood, some people with some fresh ideas, who have talent, who are hard working and who share the mission,” says Krasner.
Before Krasner’s press conference, a group of about a dozen demonstrators stood outside of the DA’s office to raise awareness about the case of Eric “Man” Riddick, a Southwest Philadelphia man serving a life sentence for the 1991 shooting of William Callet. The family says he was convicted on the word of a single witness, despite a solid alibi and conflicting forensics. Last month. a superior court judge wrote a statement saying the system failed.
“Ineffective representation, no representation,” says Christine Riddick, the man’s mother. She says the family has repeatedly sought relief and wants Krasner’s conviction integrity unit to take a look.
“I would like them to expedite my son’s matter,” she says.
The family delivered a package on the case to DA spokesman Ben Waxman. Philadelphia Black Lives Matter leader Asa Khalif, who endorsed Krasner, says he will work to hold Krasner accountable.
“It’s time to pay up on the promises he ran on,” Khalif told reporters.MORE NEWS: 2 Men Injured, 1 In Critical Condition, After Allegheny West Shooting: Police
When asked about the Riddick case, Krasner says he is moving swiftly, but little would happen until he got new staff in place. He says one of his new hires will head the Conviction Integrity Unit. While he did not provide a name, he says is expected to move to Philadelphia and fill the post by Feb. 1.