PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION OPPOSING HOUSE BILL 2662, PRINTER'S NO. 4088, HOUSE BILL 2663, PRINTER'S NO. 4089, HOUSE BILL 2664, PRINTER'S NO. 4090, AND ANY SIMILAR LEGISLATION RESTRICTING THE ELIGIBILITY OF CANDIDATES TO RUN FOR THE ELECTIVE OFFICE OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association serves the profession and the public by promoting equal justice for all, professional excellence, and respect for the rule of law; and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of the Philadelphia Bar Association to promote diversity in the profession and ensure the rights of citizens should not be abridged; and
WHEREAS, it is the goal of the Philadelphia Bar Association to increase public confidence and participation in the political process; and
WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly severely restricting the qualifications for candidates seeking the elective office of District Attorney; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 2662, Printer's No. 4088, would add the additional requirement that a candidate for District Attorney in counties of the first class (Philadelphia), second class (Alle gheny), Second Class A (Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery) and third class (Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, West moreland and York) have five years' prosecutorial experience prior to taking the oath of office; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 2663, Printer's No. 4089, would impose a limit of two terms for Dis trict Attorney in all 67 Pennsylvania counties; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 2664, Printer's No. 4090, would change the way the Philadelphia Dis trict Attorney is selected, abolishing elections for this position which have been enshrined in our Constitution since 1874, granting the Governor the power to appoint the Philadelphia District At torney, and requiring that the Philadelphia District Attorney have five years' prosecutorial expe rience; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 2662, Printer's No. 4088, would disqualify attorneys who are not part of the prosecutorial culture from seeking the Office of District of Attorney, thereby discouraging reform in the criminal justice system, discouraging diversity in the political process, and height ening distrust of the criminal justice system among groups which traditionally have suffered from exclusion and discrimination; and
WHEREAS, these bills would limit the number of attorneys eligible to run for the Office of District Attorney to the minority in the profession who have served as prosecutors;1 and
WHEREAS, these bills collectively affect fundamental voting rights for over 7,526,000 Pennsylvania residents;2 and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes House Bill 2662, Printer's No. 4088, House Bill 2663, Printer's No. 4089, and House Bill 2664, Printer's No. 4090, and any similar legislation restricting the eligibility of candidates to run for the office of District Attorney;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor of the Chancellor's designee(s) to communicate the position of this Association to the members of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, the Governor of Pennsylvania, the legal community, the media and the public, and to take such other action in furtherance of this resolution as may be deemed necessary.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Adopted: July 30, 2020
1 In 2019, there were 50,112 attorneys practicing in Pennsylvania. ABA National Lawyer Population Survey Lawyer Population by State – Year 2019, available at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/mar- ket_research/national-lawyer-population-by-state-2019.pdf. The phenomenon sought to be addressed by this legisla- tion is not unique to Philadelphia – two other elected District Attorneys in Pennsylvania had no prosecutor experi- ence before being elected: John Powell in Lackawanna and Bernie Cantora in Centre County.
2 Based on estimated 2019 populations of combined First, Second, and Third Class counties from U.S. Census data. https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/pennsylvania/population#chart.