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GOP senators grill Biden judicial nominee over ties to progressive DAs

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The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for several of President Biden’s judicial picks Wednesday, and a number of Republicans expressed particular concern over the background and philosophies of one nominee’s ties to progressive prosecutors.Nina Morrison, a senior litigation counsel with the Innocence Project who once served as its executive director, has served as an adviser for the transition committees of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Melissa Nelson, State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial District, all of whom support progressive criminal justice reforms. As Morrison answered questions regarding her nomination for the Eastern District of New York, GOP senators expressed concern over some of these policies, specifically regarding decisions not to prosecute certain types of offenses. PHILADELPHIA TOP COP VOWS ‘JUSTICE’ FOLLOWING BROAD DAYLIGHT ATTACK THAT LEFT 12-YEAR-OLD WOUNDED
Nina Morrison, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District Of New York, is sworn in during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)”We have prosecutors who are saying, ‘To hell with the legislature and the people, we’re not going to prosecute an entire line of cases.’ And I think my question is pretty straightforward: Do you agree with that or disagree with it?” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. asked.Morrison responded by saying she has never been a prosecutor, then said she could not “give a categorical yes or no” answer. Kennedy later asked if Morrison believes a judge should be able to decline to hear cases for certain types of offenses.”My position would be that judges cannot refuse to adjudicate or hear a case and ignore the will of the legislature,” Morrison said, before recognizing that district attorneys, as executives, have a “greater discretion.”
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., questions Nina Morrison, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District Of New York, during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. 
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Kennedy asked if it would be appropriate if a district attorney said she was no longer going to prosecute armed robberies. “It would depend on the circumstances,” Morrison replied. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, followed Kennedy and indicated immediately that he had a problem with Morrison’s nomination.MUGSHOTS RELEASED OF SUSPECTS IN CASE OF MISSING NEW YORK GIRL FOUND UNDER STAIRS”Ms. Morrison, you’ve urged this committee to look at the whole of your record. I will confess, the whole of your record is deeply disturbing,” Cruz said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, questions Nina Morrison, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District Of New York, during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)The Texas Republican pointed to “skyrocketing crime rates” across the country, specifically addressing rising homicide, carjacking and burglary rates.”And all of those are a direct result of the policies you’ve spent your entire lifetime advocating,” Cruz said.Cruz noted that, in Philadelphia, from the time Krasner was elected, the city’s murder count rose from 315 to 562 in 2021. Similarly, Cruz noted that in Los Angeles County, there were 397 murders in 2021, up from 258 in 2019 before Gascon’s election.10 TIMES LEGAL GUN OWNERS RECENTLY THWARTED CRIMES IN LIFE-THREATENING SITUATIONS”Why is it that you keep being part of the transition team helping advise district attorneys on how to release violent criminals?” Cruz asked. Morrison responded that she only advised the transition teams on “conviction integrity” and reviewing old cases, not “front-end prosecution policies.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., introduces Nina Morrison, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District Of New York, during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. 
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., also accused Morrison of supporting policies that are soft on crime, pointing to her praise of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner in an article. SAN FRANCISCO DA ALLEGES POLICE USED WOMAN’S RAPE KIT DNA TO ARREST HER FOR SUSPECTED CRIMEMorrison noted that her praise was based on Gardner’s role in finding evidence that exonerated one of Morrison’s clients.Hawley, who is from Gardner’s state of Missouri, recalled that during “rioting that convulsed the city of St. Louis,” which included the alleged assault of police officers, police arrested 36 people, only for Gardner’s office to release all of them, claiming that police did not provide sufficient evidence.”Is that the kind of approach that you stand by and think is appropriate for prosecutors to take?” Hawley asked.Morrison repeated that the article she wrote — and the praise for Gardner that it included — was limited to a specific situation.Hawley responded by noting that Morrison’s praise of Gardner was more general than that, referencing how Morrison said Gardiner is “part of a cohort of prosecutors who seek a new approach to justice and, in particular, seek to reform current tough-on-crime practices.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP Hawley said he agreed with that assessment.”They have reformed tough-on-crime practices,” Hawley said. “In fact, I’d say they’re pro-crime.”

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