An ex-Philadelphia prosecutor will challenge his former boss, incumbent Lynne Abraham, in the Democratic primary election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia native Seth Williams, 38, wants to reconfigure the office by assigning prosecutors to geographic sections of the city, as is done in places like Chicago and Portland, Ore., instead of their current groupings by types of crimes. In 10 1/2 years as an assistant district attorney, Williams said, “I saw up close and personal how our criminal justice system is broken.” Williams left the District Attorney’s Office in 2003 for private law practice.
Philadelphia police officers, most detectives, and probation officers are assigned to specific sections of the city. Williams said community prosecution would effectively complement community policing. He said, “That level of accountability makes the D.A.s work harder. Because they know if they do a good job, those folks are going to thank them. And if they do a bad job, they know they’re going to hear from them.” Abraham, in office since 1991, won a bitter primary challenge in 2001. Williams – unlike Abraham – promised to handle cases in court himself. He said, “She’s like the queen of England – she has no interaction with daily affairs” of her office. “The current D.A. hasn’t tried a case since Nixon was president.”