CRICKETS. That is the sound coming from the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office.
After a jury found Miles K. Karson Jr. guilty Jan. 18 of abusing his office to seek favors for an alleged love interest, Karson declined to comment about his conviction or his future.
And he has not spoken since – not to his community’s newspaper or to the people who elected him.
Karson has an official out. The case against him is not final until his sentencing, which has been set for Feb. 13.
And until then, no one except the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania can make anything happen. The board would have to revoke his license to practice law. You can’t be a district attorney without one.
So Karson can remain district attorney until that sentencing is official. And he can stay silent.
Karson has admitted that the actions he took on behalf of Tonya Bulboff were “stupid,” but has said the impact on justice in the county was minimal.
We don’t agree.
Karson’s attorney says that he will appeal his conviction.
But that is not important. Not really. Not now.
This is about ethics – and optics.
The district attorney is compromised. There is no question. And, by extension, so too is the office he directs.
And that matters when defendants plead and cases are prosecuted.
There is the impression that justice in this county is not blind, and that the person who was charged with making sure it was took it upon himself to bend – no, break – the rules.
Is it the worst story we have heard ever? No.
Is it still unsettling? Yes.
And that is why Karson needs to go. Now.
There will be time to defend his actions and to appeal the conviction. If he feels as strongly as his attorney says he does, Karson should challenge the jury’s findings.
But he should not do it as a district attorney.
An appeal will not be a defense of the county’s justice system. It will not be about a man challenging a smear on his reputation and his personal integrity.
It will not be about the county he has pledged to serve. It will be about Karson.
And that is not fair to his county or to the people who chose Karson to be this community’s top law enforcement officer.
Has Karson done some good things as district attorney? Yes.
He has put a much-needed sense of urgency in not only prosecution, but in seeking justice for crime victims and their families.
He said it has been an honor to be the county’s district attorney, and that he took the job because he wanted to serve.
And now it is time to do just that, to put what is best for his community first. No matter what his personal situation might be.
The criminal justice system in Mercer County will continue. The judges will rule on motions, the juries will evaluate evidence, and the attorneys will make their arguments.
But if it is going to move forward and to recover from this stain, it has to start now.
And that means that Karson has to get out of the way.
This is not about politics. It is about justice.
And that system has to work the same for everyone.
The next district attorney will have to live up to that standard, as will all those who are given the responsibility of standing in front of a judge and jury every day.
Karson knows that. And now is the time to remember the oath he says he has lived by for the decades he has served as a representative of that system.
If it is really about service and what is best for the county, there is only one answer.