Even the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity proved to be too weak a defense for the two disgraced former Luzerne County judges who are the leading figures in Pennsylvania’s “kids-for-cash” scandal.

A federal judge has ruled that the pair — Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. — are immune only for actions they took in court or while ruling on cases, but that they can still be sued for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to take kickbacks from the owner and builder of a privately run juvenile prison. Conahan had also asserted a defense of legislative immunity, arguing that some of the allegations lodged against him stemmed from the funding decisions he made in his role as president judge.

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