Former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham is asking a judge to remove current Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, with the help of another high-powered Philly attorney.
Abraham and Richard Sprague, a well-known Philadelphia defense attorney, sued Williams in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Monday asking a judge to essentially force Williams out of office. Last month, federal prosecutors indicted Williams on charges of bribery and corruption, claiming he used his status as district attorney for personal financial gain.
Since his federal indictment, Williams gave up his license to practice law, which Sprague and Abraham claim in Monday’s court filing means he now doesn’t meet “statutorily-required qualifications” to occupy the Office of the Philadelphia District Attorney and therefore “must be removed” from that office.
Williams has said that though his license to practice law is under suspension pending his criminal case, he plans to stay on at the Office of the District Attorney in an administrative role. Abraham and Sprague claim this doesn’t matter and “the assertion that the District Attorney could serve in a purely administrative role without crossing over into or impacting prosecutorial functions and decisions is not supportable.”
Abraham is Williams’ immediate predecessor. She served as the Philadelphia District Attorney for nearly 20 years between 1991 and 2010. In 2015, she unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Philadelphia and remains an attorney in the city.
Williams’ status now oddly parallels former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was indicted by a grand jury, had her law license suspended and then refused to resign from office. She was later convicted of corruption.