Law concerning district attorneys a necessary step

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill requiring county district attorneys to have a valid license to practice law, and setting procedures in place for how counties can proceed if a district attorney’s license is suspended or they are disbarred.

We appreciate Wolf’s signature and we appreciate the efforts of state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, whose leadership in crafting this legislation and shepherding it through the House and Senate were instrumental.

For the public to have faith in the criminal justice system, district attorneys whose transgressions are unethical or even illegal enough to warrant suspension or disbarment should not be able to proverbially barricade themselves into office. The responsibility of district attorneys is to prosecute community members accused of crimes, in a system that is meant to ensure a presumption of innocence. The ability of officials to eject a district attorney whose conduct would undermine the office’s credibility is essential.

As Yaw said, according to last Friday’s edition of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, the new law “will assure the citizens that the integrity expected in the office of district attorney is maintained.”

Yaw’s proposal — now law — will empower officials to hold prosecutors to legal and ethical standards and provide a foundation for the public’s faith in our criminal justice system. Yaw’s work on this issue is to be applauded.


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