Acting Philly DA drops bid for interim post

Acting District Attorney Kathleen Martin leaves after withdrawing from the interim district attorney race.

Acting Philadelphia District Attorney Kathleen Martin on Wednesday dropped her candidacy for interim district attorney, throwing her support to a veteran prosecutor.

Martin asked the Common Pleas Court Board of Judges, gathered in a City Hall courtroom for private presentations from the candidates, to support John Delaney.

Delaney, a deputy district attorney in charge of the Trial Division, has been a prosecutor in the city for 35 years.

Martin, in a copy of remarks obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News, said she hoped to “minimize any further disruptions in the office.”

“I can certainly tell you that John and I sometimes disagree on ideological issues but there is never a moment that John does not put intelligent thought and the best interests of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office first,” Martin told the judges.

Martin joined the office in November 2015 as then-District Attorney Seth Williams’ chief of staff. She took over the office after he resigned in June, just before pleading guilty in a federal corruption case.

Delaney, after speaking to the judges, said he told them he was best-qualified to lead the staff in redeeming the office in the eyes of the public.

“The acts of one person do not in any way affect anyone in this place or how we do our jobs,” Delaney said. “We don’t need someone coming in from the outside to ‘save us’ or to ‘right the ship.’ ”

The Board of Judges will vote Thursday for an interim district attorney to finish the last 5½ months of Williams’ second term.

Martin was barraged with questions as she entered and left the courtroom by a Black Lives Matter activist and a journalist seeking information about a police shooting last month that left a man dead.

Former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham ignored heckling from the Black Lives Matter activist as she walked into her interview. The Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP on Sunday urged the judges to not support Abraham, based on her 18-year record as district attorney.

Fourteen candidates applied last week for the interim post. Thirteen gave five-minute presentations Wednesday. One, retired Judge Paul Panepinto, was out of the country.

Seventy-one of the 88 Common Pleas Court judges attended Wednesday’s meeting, clapping politely at the end of each presentation.

A candidate needs to win a majority of the vote to win the post. The Board of Judges bylaws say that if no candidate wins a majority in the first vote, the three receiving the most votes will be placed into a runoff for a second vote. If no candidate wins a majority in the second vote, the two who received the most votes will be placed into another runoff for a third vote.

The 10 other candidates are Joe Khan, who ran for district attorney in the May Democratic primary election; retired Judges Ben Lerner and William Manfredi; Senior Judge D. Webster Keogh; five former prosecutors, Kelley Hodge, Robert A. Rovner, Curtis Douglas, Arlene Fisk, and James Berardinelli; and longtime defense attorney Leon Aristotle Williams.