Fed. Judge Approves $17.75 Mil. ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Settlement
The Legal Intelligencer
December 26, 2012


U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo of the Middle District of Pennsylvania has approved the $17.75 million settlement that Robert K. Mericle, the builder of two juvenile detention facilities who allegedly paid millions in “finder’s fees” to former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., agreed to last December in a civil suit brought by a class of juvenile plaintiffs. Full Text

High Court Changes Rules to Speed Review of Juvenile Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
December 18, 2012


The state Supreme Court announced changes designed to speed the appellate review of cases where child offenders are placed outside their homes in court delinquency matters. Full Text

3rd Circuit Weighs Judicial Bias Claim In Kids-for-Cash Case
The Legal Intelligencer
November 15, 2012


Former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. is arguing that his convictions related to the bribes he took to place youthful offenders in a privately owned juvenile detention center in the “kids-for-cash” scandal should be set aside because U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, who presided over his trial, had shown bias against him. Full Text

Defendants Can’t Revisit Cases of ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Youths
The Legal Intelligencer
November 7, 2012


The detention facilities that housed juveniles in the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal won’t be able to get the teens’ criminal records during discovery in a civil action brought by dozens of the teens who were put away, a federal judge has ruled. Full Text

Insurers Need Not Cover Powell in ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Suits
The Legal Intelligencer
June 25, 2012


The second in a pair of opinions in as many days from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that insurers are not responsible for defending or indemnifying a juvenile-detention center operator who was involved in the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County. Full Text

Claims of Malicious Prosecution Over ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Dashed
The Legal Intelligencer
June 22, 2012


The state Superior Court said in an unpublished decision issued Thursday that a business partner in the juvenile detention facilities at the center of the Luzerne County judicial scandal cannot sustain his malicious prosecution claims against the Juvenile Law Center and the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller. Full Text


 ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Developer Not Covered by Insurance
The Legal Intelligencer
June 22, 2012


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America is not obligated to defend or indemnify Robert Mericle in suits stemming from the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County. Mericle’s construction company built juvenile facilities that housed youths sent there by two former Luzerne County judges who were getting kickbacks for filling the detention centers. Full Text


After Convictions, Ciavarella and Orie Suspended From Bar
The Legal Intelligencer Blog
May 8, 2012

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued two orders today placing former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and state Senator Jane C. Orie on temporary suspension from the Pennsylvania bar because of their criminal convictions. Full Text

 


High Court Denies Appeal in Luzerne County Prothonotary Case
The Legal Intelligencer
May 3, 2012

The state Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a Luzerne County prothonotary who sued when the county decided to dissolve the elected office and create an appointed system for overseeing judicial records. Full Text

 


Judge Refuses to Open Juvenile Records in ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Civil Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
April 12, 2012


The original court records for juveniles who were sent to Luzerne County detention facilities in the “kids-for-cash” scandal will stay closed, a federal judge ruled this week. Full Text



Luzerne Co. Public Defender Sues County for Underfunding
The Legal Intelligencer
April 11, 2012


Luzerne County Chief Public Defender Albert J. Flora Jr., along with three indigent adult criminal defendants, has filed a class action suit against the county and County Manager Robert C. Lawton for what they allege is “deliberate indifference to the funding needs” of the Adult Unit of the Luzerne County Public Defender’s Office. The suit claims the office’s ability to represent adult defendants has suffered while its juvenile representation has seen marked improvement because of grant funding following the county’s “kids-for-cash” scandal. Full Text

 


 

Judge Allows Additional Defendants in ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Civil Suit

The Legal Intelligencer
March  22, 2012

A federal judge hearing arguments in the wake of the kids-for-cash scandal has allowed 45 new plaintiffs to enter the suit. Full Text

 


 

Letter: Assertion Regarding Lokuta Is Wrong
The Legal Intelligencer
March  21, 2012

 


The article appearing in The Legal Intelligencer on March 6 (“When Are Men Going to Put an End to the Boys’ Club?” by Editor-in-Chief Hank Grezlak) contains the following assertion:…Full Text



 

Fed. Judge Approves $17.75 Mil. Settlement Of ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
March  6, 2012

A federal judge has preliminarily approved the $17.75 million settlement Robert K. Mericle, the builder of two juvenile detention facilities who allegedly paid millions in “finder’s fees” to former Luzerne County Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., agreed to in December in a civil suit brought by a class of juvenile plaintiffs. Full Text



When Are Men Going to Put an End to the Boys’ Club?
The Legal Intelligencer
March 6, 2012


If you ask me Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old Georgetown law school student who argued in favor of health care plans covering contraceptives before Congress, has more balls than Rush Limbaugh, the rotund radio host who smeared her. Full Text



 

RICO Claim Survives Early Motion in ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
February 28, 2012


A federal judge has allowed the mother of a juvenile who was incarcerated during the Luzerne County judicial scandal to move forward with a RICO claim against the facility where her son was imprisoned. Full Text




Ciavarella Has Judicial Immunity From Some Civil Claims
The Legal Intelligencer
February 6, 2012


Echoing his earlier ruling in the civil class action brought by juveniles against former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., a federal judge has ruled in a separate suit that Ciavarella is shielded by judicial immunity from some, but not all, of the allegations.  Full Text

 

 


 
Special Master Finished as Luzerne Co. Court Retakes Control of Juvenile Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
January 6, 2012

Following a state Supreme Court order Thursday, the Luzerne County Common Pleas Court has regained complete control over adjudicating and disposing of the county’s juvenile cases. Full Text



Mericle Settles ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Civil Lawsuits
The Legal Intelligencer
December 27, 2011


Robert K. Mericle, the builder of two juvenile detention facilities who allegedly paid millions in “finder’s fees” to Ciavarella and former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, has agreed to settle his portion of a civil suit brought by a class of juvenile plaintiffs for $17.75 million, with the possibility of an additional $1.75 million. Full Text




Bulk of Mericle Settlement Reserved For Juveniles Who Were Harmed
The Legal Intelligencer
December 20, 2011


The largest single portion of the $17.75 million settlement developer Robert K. Mericle agreed to on Dec. 16 will be reserved for juvenile victims who suffered physical or psychological harm as the result of being sent to detention centers by former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. Full Text




Mericle Settles ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Suit for $17.75 Mil.
The Legal Intelligencer
December 19, 2011


Robert K. Mericle, the builder of two juvenile detention facilities who allegedly paid millions in “finder’s fees” to former Luzerne County Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., has agreed to settle his portion of a civil suit brought by a class of juvenile plaintiffs for $17.75 million. Full Text



Judge Sides With Luzerne County Newspaper in Defamation Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
December 14, 2011

After a decade of litigation and a second trial in the case, a Luzerne County judge has ruled that The Scranton Times, which owns and publishes the Citizens’ Voice newspaper, did not defame Luzerne County businessman Thomas A. Joseph Sr.
 


Luzerne Co. Officially Out as ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Civil Defendant
The Legal Intelligencer
December 2, 2011

A federal judge has dismissed Luzerne County, the county department of juvenile probation and three former county officials from a civil suit filed by a class of plaintiffs alleging their rights were violated in the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” judicial scandal. Full Text


From the Chief: It’s Open Season on Children in Pennsylvania
The Legal Intelligencer
November 11, 2011
In light of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, Pennsylvania really needs to change its nickname from the Keystone State to the Child Abuser State. Full Text
 
Judicial Discipline Seen as Consistent in Pennsylvania
The Legal Intelligencer
November 8, 2011
 
Since 2001, of the 29 state judges charged by the Judicial Conduct Board to receive sanctions from the Court of Judicial Discipline, 13 judges have been removed from office. The charges brought against those judges ranged from illegal gambling operations, to extortion, to sexual assault. Full Text
 

Lawyer in Luzerne County Scandal Gets 18 Months
The Legal Intelligencer
November 7, 2011

A federal judge on Nov. 4 sentenced the former co-owner of two juvenile detention facilities to 18 months in prison for his role in the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Full Text


Zappala’s Malicious Prosecution Claims Over Luzerne Co. Lawsuits Dismissed
The Legal Intelligencer
October 13, 2011

A Philadelphia judge has dismissed the five malicious prosecution lawsuits that a person tied to the juvenile detention facilities at the center of the Luzerne County judicial scandal brought against at least nine law firms representing the youths sentenced to serve time at the facility. Full Text


Legal Observers Say Conahan’s Sentence Fair, Starting Point for Healing
The Legal Intelligencer
October 4, 2011

In the week following the 17.5-year federal prison sentence handed down to former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan, several judicial watchers told the Law Weekly they were far from surprised by the high number, which fell just two-and-a-half years shy of the maximum sentence the disgraced judge faced. Full Text


U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Lokuta’s Case
The Legal Intelligencer
October 3, 2011

Former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta will not be able to plead her case before the U.S. Supreme Court now that the high court has refused to hear her appeal, seemingly ending a drawn-out saga involving allegations of prejudice, selective prosecution and judicial conflicts of interest. Full Text


Conahan Sentenced to 17.5 Years
The Legal Intelligencer
Sept. 23, 2011

Before a packed courtroom, former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan was sentenced to 210 months — 17.5 years — in federal prison for his role in the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Full Text
 

Ciavarella’s Lengthy Sentence May Set Bar for Conahan
The Legal Intelligencer
August 30, 2011

Now that former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella is serving a nearly three-decade term in federal prison for his part in the county’s judicial scandal, all eyes have turned to his alleged co-conspirator and fellow former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, whose sentencing hearing is set for Sept. 23. Full Text.
 
Conahan’s Sentencing Set for Sept. 23
The Legal Intelligencer
August 24, 2011


Former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael T. Conahan’s sentencing has been scheduled for Friday, Sept. 23, in Scranton. Full Text
 

Ciavarella Tells Court He’s Broke
The Legal Intelligencer
August 24, 2011

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella has filed an application asking the court to declare him indigent. Full Text
 


Ciavarella Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison
The Legal Intelligencer
August 11, 2011

Before a packed courtroom that spilled into a second room where a crowd watched on monitors, former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to 336 months — 28 years — in federal prison.avarella has filed an application asking the court to declare him indigent. Full Text

 
Justices OK Payments to Luzerne County Juvenile Crime Victims
The Legal Intelligencer
August 11, 2011

The state Supreme Court has approved about $65,000 in restitution for the victims of juvenile offenders whose convictions were tossed out following the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal. But juvenile rights advocates say the focus should be on compensating the juveniles themselves. Full Text
 

 

Supreme Court Posts Amounts Paid to Luzerne County Victims
The Legal Intelligencer
July 28, 2011

The state Supreme Court posted three special master determinations that collectively listed the names of over 100 victims of juveniles whose convictions were tossed out following the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal and the amounts each will be compensated. Full Text
 


 
From the Chief: ABA Report No Reason for High Fives for Judicial Conduct System
The Legal Intelligencer
July 12, 2011

An American Bar Association report on Pennsylvania’s judicial conduct system provided a number of helpful recommendations on ways to improve the system and did so without being overly critical, particularly of the Judicial Conduct Board.
 

ABA Report Reveals Inner Workings of State’s JCB
The Legal Intelligencer
July 5, 2011

In addition to the 14 recommendations an American Bar Association committee issued regarding the state’s judicial conduct system, the 56-page report also unveiled aspects of the inner workings of the Judicial Conduct Board, which came under fire after the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Full Text
 

Dissolution of Luzerne Prothonotary’s Office Upheld
The Legal Intelligencer
June 28, 2011

The Commonwealth Court has upheld the dissolution of Luzerne County’s elected prothonotary’s office and the creation in its place of a Division of Judicial Services and Records appointed by the County Council. Full Text


 

 
Ciavarella and Conahan May Face Very Different Sentences
The Legal Intelligencer
June 7, 2011

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. has joined his co-defendant, former Judge Michael T. Conahan, in awaiting sentencing after a federal judge denied his post-trial motions late last month.
 


Ciavarella’s Post-Trial Motions Denied
The Legal Intelligencer
May 27, 2011

U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Edwin M. Kosik has denied former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr.’s post-trial motions to be granted a new trial or to have his racketeering and honest services fraud convictions overturned. Full Text

 

‘Kids-for-Cash’ Plaintiffs Lose Bid to Add County to Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
May 3, 2011

The federal judge who is presiding over the civil rights suits filed in the wake of the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County has rejected the plaintiffs’ bid to add allegations that a former county commissioner participated in the conspiracy to incarcerate juveniles in return for bribes. Full Text

 

Letters of Support Played Role in Toole’s Sentencing
The Legal Intelligencer
April 11, 2011

The real Michael T. Toole, who was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Friday, was not simply the former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court judge who agreed to plead guilty for selling his judicial seat for the use of a beach house in New Jersey, they said. He was not just the man who failed to report an attorney’s referral fee on his taxes. Full Text


No Coverage Duty in ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Cases, Judge Suggests
The Legal Intelligencer
April 7, 2011

The federal judge who is overseeing the civil rights suits filed in the wake of the “kids-for-cash” judicial corruption scandal in Luzerne County has handed down a pair of opinions in favor of insurers who are refusing to provide any coverage for the cases. Full Text


Ciavarella Hangs Acquittal Arguments on Evidentiary Issues
The Legal Intelligencer
April 6, 2011

Arguing that evidence submitted by the federal government was both time-barred and insufficient, former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. has petitioned a federal court judge to overturn his racketeering and honest services fraud convictions. Full Text



If Pa. Supreme Court Won’t Reform JCB, Then Someone Else Should
The Legal Intelligencer
March 29, 2011

When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its progress report on its response to reform proposals made by the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice in the wake of the Luzerne County Courthouse scandal, it was pretty thin when it came to judicial ethics and the judicial conduct system. Full Text


Ciavarella Begins Appeals Process With Brace of Motions
The Legal Intelligencer
March 7, 2011

Convicted last month of racketeering and honest services fraud, Former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella has filed a series of motions to have the most serious charges against him tossed. Full Text


High Court ‘in Process’ of Changing Juvenile Justice System
The Legal Intelligencer
March 2, 2011

Nine months after a commission offered its recommendations on how to improve the state’s juvenile justice system, Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille provided for the first time yesterday a road map for the court’s implementation of some of those changes. Full Text


JCB’s Proposed Rule Change Applauded for ‘Transparency’
The Legal Intelligencer
February 22, 2011

The state’s Judicial Conduct Board has proposed a rule change to strip its chief counsel of the ability to determine whether anonymous complaints warrant full investigations without consulting the board’s members. Full Text


Ciavarella Found Guilty in Corruption Case
The Legal Intelligencer
February 22, 2011

While he was found guilty on the most egregious charges at the heart of his case, including racketeering, former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. escaped a bribery conviction because a federal jury in Scranton “bent over backward” to follow its instructions to the letter, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon A. Zubrod. Full Text


Jury Deliberations in Ciavarella Trial Continue
The Legal Intelligencer
February 18, 2011

A federal jury in Scranton is scheduled to continue deliberations today in former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr.’s federal corruption trial. Full Text


After Closings, Jury in Ciavarella Trial Set to Deliberate
The Legal Intelligencer
February 17, 2011

A day after his client admitted to tax evasion, Albert Flora used his closing arguments Wednesday to try to steer the jury toward two main points: that developer Robert Mericle never conceived of the fee paid to former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella as a kickback and that Ciavarella never extorted PA Child Care owner Robert Powell. Full Text



Ciavarella Admits to Pocketing Campaign Cash Contributions
The Legal Intelligencer
February 16, 2011

Within 45 days of receiving his first finder’s fee from PA Child Care builder Robert K. Mericle, former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. was nearly out of money. Again. He had spent about $310,000 of the $330,000 payment on paying credit card bills and fulfilling lines of credit. Full Text


Like ‘Lion … Out of the Cage,’ Judges Preyed on Powell, Jury Told
The Legal Intelligencer
February 11, 2011

When Michael T. Conahan or Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. wanted money from Robert Powell, the two Luzerne County Common Pleas Court judges started calling the attorney’s friends and family, Powell told a federal jury in Scranton Thursday. Full Text


Reporter’s Notebook: Powell a King-Sized Presence on Witness Stand
The Legal Intelligencer Blog
February 10, 2011

Robert J. Powell’s nearly two hours on the witness stand at Mark Ciavarella’s federal racketeering trial Tuesday was highly eventful. And since The Legal’s story could only covered a small portion of the proceedings, this blog post can fill out the picture. Full Text


Powell Testifies in Ciavarella Trial, Describes Alleged Extortion Scheme
The Legal Intelligencer
February 10, 2011

When Robert Powell showed up at Mark Ciavarella’s judicial chambers in the fall of 2003, he was met with news that surprised him. Full Text


Ciavarella’s Federal Racketeering Trial Begins in Scranton
The Legal Intelligencer
February 9, 2011

Former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. leaned back in his chair with his hand on his chin during opening arguments of his federal racketeering trial Tuesday, listening as the prosecution told the jury that he and former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan had “turned the court of common pleas into a criminal enterprise.” Full Text


As Trial Approaches, Echoes of Ciavarella’s Trip to the Stand
The Legal Intelligencer
February 8, 2011

The last time Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. sat in a courtroom witness chair was July 2009. Full Text


Justices’ Refusal to Grant Retrial to Lokuta Further Weakens Suspect System
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 25, 2011

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to deny former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta a new disciplinary trial is a serious injustice that undermines people’s faith in the integrity of the state’s judicial system. Full Text


Justices Uphold Lokuta’s Removal From Judicial Post
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 16, 2011

The state Supreme Court has affirmed former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta’s removal from the bench, seemingly bringing to an end a protracted saga involving allegations of prejudice, selective prosecution and judicial conflicts of interest. Full Text


Superior Ct. Vacates $3.4 Mil. Verdict Overseen by Ciavarella
The Legal Intelligencer 
December 23, 2010

A state Superior Court panel has vacated a $3.4 million legal malpractice award overseen by former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. because of his ties to one of the lawyers in the case. Full Text


Luzerne Co. Defamation Suit Set to Go a Second Round
The Legal Intelligencer 
Decembe r 21, 2010

A Luzerne County businessman may continue his defamation suit against a local newspaper on allegations that it falsely tied him to mob activity and a federal investigation, a common pleas judge there has ruled. Full Text


‘Kids for Cash’ Defendants Turn Attention to Latest Suit
The Legal Intelligencer 
November 23, 2010

Led by a memorandum of law filed by the defendants in the civil “kids for cash” suit with direct ties to Luzerne County government, several individuals in the case have filed motions to dismiss an amended complaint filed by one class of plaintiffs earlier this fall. Full Text


Toole, Former Luzerne Co. Judge, Reaches New Plea Deal
The Legal Intelligencer 
October 8, 2010

Federal prosecutors have reached a second plea agreement with a former Luzerne County judge who admitted in December to fixing the appointment of a neutral arbitrator for a UM/UIM case in exchange for use of a New Jersey beach house. Full Text


External Review Leads Changes Adopted by Judicial Conduct Board
The Legal Intelligencer 
October 5, 2010

With seven new members appointed to the state’s Judicial Conduct Board in the last few months, you’d think the board’s bi-monthly meeting would be some sort of “getting to know you” event. Full Text


Chief Justice Outlines Pa. High Court’s Response to Luzerne County Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer 
October 5, 2010

Regrettably, I was unable to reach reporter Leo Strupczewski before his deadline for the recent article, “In the Wake of Luzerne Scandal, Change is Hard to Come By” ( Pennsylvania Law Weekly, published Sept. 28) even though I left a message on his voice mail. Full Text


Grand Jury Re-Indicts Ciavarella in Luzerne County Fraud Case
The Legal Intelligencer 
September 30, 2010

A federal grand jury has handed down a superseding indictment against former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the federal honest services fraud statute, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Full Text


Judge: Facility Owner’s Insurer Has No Duty to Defend Luzerne Suits
The Legal Intelligencer 
September 29, 2010

Gregory Zappala, the owner of the juvenile detention facility at the heart of the “kids-for-cash” judicial corruption scandal in Luzerne County, suffered a setback this week when a federal judge ruled that his insurer has no duty to defend him in a spate of civil suits. Full Text


In the Wake of Luzerne Scandal, Change Is Hard to Come By
The Legal Intelligencer 
September 28, 2010

Shortly after the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice released its recommendations on how to fix the state’s juvenile justice system in May, several individuals – from legislators to court watchers — said time would be one of the biggest roadblocks to implementing change. Full Text


Ruling Sets ‘Landscape’ for ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Civil Suits
The Legal Intelligencer 
August 24, 2010

A federal court judge this week dismissed three defendants from civil suits related to the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County, effectively clearing the way for the case to move forward. Full Text

 


Character Evidence Paints Picture of Convict Beyond Crime
The Legal Intelligencer 
August 24, 2010

On July 30, former Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak petitioned friends and colleagues through his Facebook page to write character letters to the federal judge scheduled to sentence him for accepting a kickback from a local real estate contractor. Full Text


D isgraced Former Luzerne Co. Judges Lose Immunity Battle
The Legal Intelligencer 
August 11, 2010

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 the “kids-for-cash” scandal. Full Text


Lessons Learned From Luzerne County: A member of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice offers his views The Legal Intelligencer 
July 27, 2010

In my role as a member of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, I found myself reflecting back on my tenure as president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Full Text

JCB Argues Lokuta’s Claims to High Court Lack Evidence

The Legal Intelligencer 
July 16, 2010

Two months after being accused of prosecutorial misconduct and “anchoring” its case to the testimony of “despicable characters,” the state’s Judicial Conduct Board responded to former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Ann H. Lokuta by arguing she had no evidence to support her claims. Full Text


Luzerne Co. Dismissed From Kids-for-Cash Suits
The Legal Intelligencer 
July 13, 2010

The Luzerne County Courthouse
A federal judge has ruled that Luzerne County cannot be held liable in the kids-for-cash corruption scandal that has led to criminal charges against two of the county’s ex-judges because no county officials with policymaking authority played any role in the alleged scheme. Full Text


Pa. Supreme Court Shouldn’t Let JCB Off the Hook
The Legal Intelligencer 
June 15, 2010

Of all the system failures that led to the Luzerne County judicial scandal, one of the worst was the Judicial Conduct Board’s whiffing on a detailed complaint against former judge Michael T. Conahan that alleged case fixing, mob ties, and the basics of the “kids-for-cash” scheme. Now that the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice has issued its report, it’s up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to make sure the JCB undergoes meaningful reform. Full Text



After Report’s Recommendations, Will Changes Be Made?
The Legal Intelligencer 
June 8, 2010

At a press conference last month, the chair of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice gave a slight chuckle when he was asked if he worried the report he and his colleagues were issuing would simply end up “collecting dust.” Full Text


Despite Report, JCB Reforms May Prove Elusive

The Legal Intelligencer 
June 1, 2010

Although the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice in its final report chose subtle language to take to task nearly every aspect of how the Judicial Conduct Board operates, its prescription is far-reaching, suggesting that a constitutional amendment might be necessary to remedy the board’s problems. Full Text


Report Urges Sweeping Changes for Juvenile Courts, JCB
The Legal Intelligencer 
May 28, 2010

A commission charged with reviewing the Luzerne County judicial corruption scandal released a 66-page final report Thursday, recommending scores of new procedures to protect juveniles who appear in the state’s delinquency courts and to increase judicial accountability. Full Text


Joint Defense Agreement No Roadblock to Corruption Trial
The Legal Intelligencer 
May 25, 2010

Among the dozens of motions they filed in early March, former Luzerne County judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania of “outrageous government misconduct.” Full Text


Lokuta Asks High Court to Intervene in Disciplinary Case
The Legal Intelligencer 
May 12, 2010

Nearly 14 months after she petitioned to have her case remanded to the Court of Judicial Discipline and her seat held open, former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta has again filed a brief with the state Supreme Court to appeal for help in regaining her judicial position. Full Text


Conahan Agrees To Plead Guilty to RICO Charge
The Legal Intelligencer 
April 30, 2010

Former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Michael T. Conahan agreed Thursday to plead guilty to accepting, along with another judge, more that $2.8 million from the builder and former co-owner of a private juvenile detention facility. Full Text


Cost of Recent Disciplinary Cases Less Than $1,000 for JCB
The Legal Intelligencer 
April 27, 2010

The Judicial Conduct Board’s three most recent completed investigations and prosecutions cost about $800 — far less than the $46,000 it spent between 2004 and 2008 in seeking to remove former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta from the bench. Full Text


Luzerne Clerk of Courts Faces Bribery Charge
The Legal Intelligencer 
April 19, 2010

Federal law enforcement officials on Friday charged the Luzerne County clerk of courts with soliciting and accepting a bribe. Full Text.


Civil Litigation Growing Out of ‘Kids-for-Cash’ Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer 
April 19, 2010

The civil rights suits filed in the wake of the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County have sparked a trio of satellite lawsuits in which insurers are seeking to get off the hook for any coverage for the owners, operators and builders of the juvenile facility that allegedly paid bribes to judges to get more kids incarcerated. Full Text

 



JCB: Conahan Investigation Tabled Because Former Judge Was Witness
The Legal Intelligencer 
April 13, 2010

The Judicial Conduct Board’s chief counsel suggested to the board’s members in June 2007 that it table an investigation into a former Luzerne County judge because he was a witness in an upcoming judicial discipline trial, according to a written statement made last week by the board’s members. Full Text


JCB Spent $46,000 in Lokuta Probe and Prosecution

The Legal Intelligencer 
April 12, 2010

The Judicial Conduct Board spent more than $46,000 between 2004 and 2008 investigating and prosecuting former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta. Full Text

 

 

State Supreme Court Expunges Luzerne Co. Juvenile Records
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 30, 2010

The state Supreme Court has issued an order approving the final steps to expunge the records of all juveniles who appeared before former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. between 2003 and 2008. Full Text


For Interbranch Commission, a Two-Month Warning
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 30, 2010

In December, when the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice heard from a group of teenagers who had been adjudicated delinquent by former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., the first to testify offered a brief assessment of the juvenile delinquency system that could very well find a place in the commission’s final report. Full Text


The Interbranch Commission Faces a Daunting Deadline
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 30, 2010

One compelling question in the wake of the Luzerne County judicial scandal is this: Can Pennsylvania’s legal version of Humpty Dumpty be put back together again? That’s something the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice is looking to answer, and they only have until May 31 to come up with their suggestions. Full Text


It’s Time to Take the Wrecking Ball to Our Judicial Discipline System
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 16, 2010

Former Luzerne Judge Ann Lokuta and the state’s judicial conduct system have a lot in common: The people they need to convince the most don’t believe them. Full Text.


Judicial Conduct Board Provides Answers, but Questions Persist
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 10, 2010

A 12-page document filed earlier this month by the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board may have provided some sought-after answers about its actions on complaints filed against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, but it also raised several questions and left others unanswered. Full Text


JCB Admits It Never Investigated Complaints Against Conahan
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 9, 2010

Despite receiving four complaints since 2004 against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, who is facing federal racketeering charges, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board never investigated any of them, it has admitted in writing. Full Text


Judicial Conduct Board Needs to Answer Questions Regarding Luzerne Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 8, 2010

Months of news reports, legal wrangling and efforts by the Judicial Conduct Board to keep its role in and knowledge of the Luzerne County scandal under tight wraps lead us to conclude that — at a minimum — when it came to Luzerne County, the board had its priorities out of whack. Full Text


Ex-Judges File Pretrial Motions in Luzerne Corruption Case
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 3, 2010

Two former Luzerne County judges facing federal racketeering charges have filed a series of pretrial motions charging federal officials with “outrageous government misconduct,” questioning the impartiality of the judge assigned to their case and requesting a change in venue. Full Text


More Than a Year Later, Luzerne Scandal Shows No Signs of Fading
The Legal Intelligencer 
March 2, 2010

What has emerged as the worst judicial scandal in Pennsylvania’s history, the investigation of alleged corruption in the Luzerne County courthouse, is ongoing and aggressive, according to sources, and is currently targeting attorneys and possible case-fixing. Full Text


Rendell Taps Interim Judges for Luzerne
The Legal Intelligencer 
February 15, 2010

Gov. Edward G. Rendell on Tuesday announced his nomination of two Luzerne County lawyers to serve as interim judges on the county’s court of common pleas. Full Text


Lawyer: I Warned JCB About Former Luzerne Judges in ’05
The Legal Intelligencer 
February 9, 2010

Though it didn’t come in the form of a complaint, a former solicitor for the Luzerne County Controller’s office told the Judicial Conduct Board’s deputy counsel as early as 2005 that he had concerns about two of the county’s judges and a private juvenile detention center being built there. Full Text


JCB Staff Suspected Lokuta Made Anonymous Complaint
Deputy Counsel Provides Timeline in Testimony Before Interbranch Commission
The Legal Intelligencer 
February 3, 2010

When an anonymous complaint lodged against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan arrived at the Judicial Conduct Board’s office in September 2006, staff members immediately suspected a fellow judge facing potential disciplinary charges was behind it, the board’s deputy counsel told a commission investigating judicial corruption Tuesday. Full Text


At Interbranch Hearing, a Focus on Juvenile Defenders
The Legal Intelligencer 
February 2, 2010

Though the corruption that tainted Luzerne County’s juvenile delinquency court between 2003 and 2008 was an anomaly, experts told the state’s Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice Monday, the practices and procedures that helped allow the scandal to happen are found across the country. Full Text


Justices: JCB Must Turn Over Conahan Complaint
The Legal Intelligencer 
February 1, 2010

The Judicial Conduct Board must turn over an anonymous complaint filed against a former Luzerne County judge to an interbranch investigative body but may keep the documents related to its investigation into that judge confidential, a sharply divided state Supreme Court has ruled. Full Text


Commission Demands JCB Documents on Ex-Luzerne Judges
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 21, 2010

A state commission investigating the Luzerne County courthouse scandal has subpoenaed several Judicial Conduct Board documents related to two former Luzerne County judges despite a growing legal battle between the two parties, a new filing with the state Supreme Court shows. Full Text


Lokuta Asks CJD to Reconsider Decision Denying Hearing
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 19, 2010
Judge Ann H. Lokuta has asked for reconsideration of the Court of Judicial Discipline’s Jan. 4 decision to deny her a hearing on new evidence that she says will show her misconduct trial was tainted. Full Text



JCB Members Reclaim Authority With New IOPs
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 15, 2010
The state’s Judicial Conduct Board has revised its policies and procedures, reining in the power of its chief counsel and restoring much of that authority to the board members. Full Text


JCB Accused of ‘Selectively’ Waiving Confidentiality
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 14, 2010

The commission charged with evaluating the state’s juvenile justice system and judicial disciplinary procedures has accused the Judicial Conduct Board of refusing to cooperate with its attempts to fulfill its statutory mandates. Full Text

Three Suggestions for Taking Action in Luzerne County
The Legal Intelligencer  Editorial Board
January 13, 2010
There is no doubt that the scandal in Luzerne County is not an isolated instance. With three common pleas court judges indicted (and a fourth, who was not accused of wrongdoing, defeated in November’s retention election), it is obvious the operation of the court is infected with a cancer of corruption.. Full Text


After Judge’s Plea, Insurer Wants Award Vacated
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 13, 2010
Erie Insurance Exchange has filed a petition to vacate a $1.2 million auto insurance arbitration award the company paid to a Luzerne County man in the case that was apparently the basis for federal corruption charges against Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Toole. Full Text


Court of Judicial Discipline Rules Against Lokuta Again
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 6, 2010

Rejecting Judge Ann H. Lokuta’s claims that revelations of widespread corruption in the Luzerne County Courthouse warrant a re-examination of her case, the state Court of Judicial Discipline denied Lokuta’s bid to regain her position on the bench in a sharply divided decision Monday. Full Text


Filing Shows Growing Tension Between JCB, Commission
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 5, 2010
The Judicial Conduct Board has asked the state Supreme Court to rule that it is not required to turn over documents to a commission designed to evaluate the state’s juvenile justice system and judicial disciplinary system. Full Text


Following Guilty Plea, Justices Revoke Luzerne Judge’s Pay
The Legal Intelligencer
 
January 4, 2010

The state Supreme Court revoked a Luzerne County judge’s pay and benefits last week, following his pleading guilty to honest services fraud and filing a false tax return. Full Text

 

JLC: Lack of DA Training Enabled Luzerne Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer 
January 4, 2010

The Juvenile Law Center has asked a federal judge for the second time for permission to amend its lawsuit on behalf of a class of youths who say they were deprived of their rights in the courtroom of former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. Full Text


Analysis: JCB’s Responses to ’06 Conahan Complaint Marked by Inconsistencies
The Legal Intelligencer

December 15, 2009


The Judicial Conduct Board’s answers to questions about how it handled the detailed complaint filed against indicted former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan in 2006 have been marked by inconsistencies and drawn accusations of stonewalling. Full Text


Sources Say NE Pa. Firm With Link to Toole Will Close
The Legal Intelligencer
December 11, 2009

Cardoni & Associates, of Kingston, Pa., will close its doors by the end of the year, sources familiar with the Pennsylvania insurance defense bar say, following federal charges that a Luzerne County Common Pleas judge allegedly accepted the use of a New Jersey beach house owned by the firm’s managing member and improperly ruled in that attorney’s favor in a civil litigation case. Full Text


JCB Tabled Conahan Investigation in 2006
The Legal Intelligencer
December 10, 2009

The Judicial Conduct Board voted in 2006 to table an investigation into a detailed complaint filed against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan after its chief counsel notified the board of the complaint’s existence, according to the current board chairman. Full Text


JCB Member Testifies He Never Saw ’06 Conahan Complaint
The Legal Intelligencer
December 9, 2009

A member of the state’s judicial conduct board said Tuesday he never received a copy of an anonymous complaint, filed in September 2006, that detailed allegations of case-fixing, mob ties and the improper placement of juveniles in a privately owned juvenile detention facility against a former Luzerne County judge until he requested one this summer. Full Text




Checks and Balances Frustrated in Luzerne Court, Ex-ADA Tells Panel

The Legal Intelligencer
December 8, 2009

Testifying before a special commission examining the Luzerne County courthouse scandal, a former assistant district attorney said Monday the juvenile delinquency judge’s courtroom left prosecutors without a means of determining where juveniles should be sent after an adjudication hearing. Full Text


Rendell Appoints Criminal Defense Lawyer and Bar Leader to Luzerne Co. Court
The Legal Intelligencer
December 4, 2009

Gov. Edward G. Rendell has nominated a Forty Fort, Pa., attorney to fill one of the vacancies on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.  Full Text


Attorney in Allegedly Fixed Luzerne UM/UIM Case ID’d
The Legal Intelligencer
December 4, 2009

A Kingston, Pa., attorney has been identified by sources and court documents as the person who provided Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Michael T. Toole with “things of value,” including free use of a New Jersey beach house, while continuing to litigate cases before the judge. Full Text


Feds Charge Third Luzerne Judge With Fraud
The Legal Intelligencer
December 3, 2009

Federal authorities have charged Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Toole with honest services fraud and with filing a false tax return. Full Text



Justices Deny Lokuta’s King’s Bench Petition, Cite Remand

The Legal Intelligencer
November 25, 2009

The state Supreme Court has denied a second King’s Bench petition filed by former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Ann H. Lokuta, writing that her attempts to have a Court of Judicial Discipline judge removed from her case must wait until after the CJD issues a ruling on the after-discovered evidence she recently submitted in an attempt to regain her seat on the bench. Full Text
 

Ex-Luzerne Judges Win Partial Immunity in Civil Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
 November 23, 2009

Two former Luzerne County judges who are facing federal criminal charges have been granted partial immunity in a civil suit brought by a class of juveniles who claim their rights were violated in the wake of the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Full Text


Some CJD Judges Hint at Restoring Lokuta to Luzerne County Bench
The Legal Intelligencer
 November 18, 2009

When former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta and her lawyers walked into a Harrisburg courtroom Tuesday, they had little expectation that the court might consider restoring the embattled jurist to the office from which she was removed nearly a year ago. Full Text


 I Had ‘Nowhere Else to Go,’ Official Tells Luzerne Panel
The Legal Intelligencer
 November 11, 2009

Three days after PA Child Care opened its doors, Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. sent a letter to juvenile delinquency court staff notifying them he was suspending use of graduated sanctions and implementing a strict “zero tolerance” policy.  Full Text


JCB Chief Counsel: Conahan Complaint Had ‘Area[s] of Concern’
The Legal Intelligencer
November 10, 2009


The chief counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board testified Monday before a special commission investigating the Luzerne County judicial scandal that the board forwarded the 2006 complaint filed against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan after federal investigators requested a copy. Full Text


Luzerne Co. Voters Oust Olszewski, Keep Burke
The Legal Intelligencer
November 5, 2009

Voters in scandal-plagued Luzerne County shied away from a “vote them all out” mentality Tuesday, instead opting to keep one of their judges facing retention while removing the other from office. Full Text


Justices Order New Trial in Luzerne Co. Defamation Case
The Legal Intelligencer
November 5, 2009

Writing that two former Luzerne County president judges positioned themselves to control case assignments there, the state Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to grant a new trial in a $3.5 million defamation suit. Full Text


Justices Expunge ‘Tainted’ Luzerne County Juvenile Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
October 30, 2009


The state Supreme Court has issued a sweeping order vacating nearly all of the records for juveniles who appeared before a former Luzerne County judge there. Full Text


Luzerne PJ Describes ‘a Court Gone Rogue’
The Legal Intelligencer
October 15, 2009

When Luzerne County held its annual budget meeting in October 2002, the county court’s president judge sent his court administrator to request $10 million for placements in juvenile delinquency cases. Full Text


Fallout From Scandal a Hurdle for Luzerne Judges Seeking Retention
The Legal Intelligencer
October 12, 2009

On the same day officials celebrated the Luzerne County Courthouse’s 100th anniversary, a 25-foot pink inflatable pig flew outside in protest and a photograph of a sitting judge posing with a convicted felon was front-page news in the local press. Full Text


Group Opposes Judicial Immunity Claim of Ex-Luzerne Judges
The Legal Intelligencer
September 24, 2009

A group of 20 former judges and legal scholars have written an amicus curiae brief in the class action suit against two former Luzerne County judges and others, supporting arguments that Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. should not be able to invoke the doctrine of judicial immunity. Full Text


 

Ex-Luzerne Co. Judges Plead Not Guilty to New Charges
The Legal Intelligencer
September 16, 2009

 

Embattled former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. were arraigned in federal court Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty to 48 counts, including racketeering and related charges. Full Text


JCB’s  Chief Counsel Testified Before Grand Jury in Luzerne Probe
The Legal Intelligencer
September 14, 2009

The chief counsel for the state Judicial Conduct Board testified before a federal grand jury related to the Luzerne County judicial corruption probe, according to a court filing made Thursday. Full Text


Arraignment Scheduled for Ex-Luzerne County Judges
The Legal Intelligencer
September 11, 2009

Two former Luzerne County judges are expected to be arraigned on racketeering and related charges next week, according to a federal magistrate judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Full Text


Ex-Luzerne County Judges Indicted For Racketeering
The Legal Intelligencer
September 10, 2009

A federal grand jury has handed down a 48-count indictment against two former Luzerne County judges, alleging the men engaged in racketeering and related charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday. Full Text


Judicial Conduct Complaint Was Filed Against Conahan in 2006
The Legal Intelligencer
September 9, 2009

A detailed complaint was filed against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan with the Judicial Conduct Board in 2006, alleging wide-spread corruption including case-fixing, mob ties and the improper placement of juveniles in a privately owned juvenile detention facility. Full Text


Builder of Juvenile Detention Centers Enters Plea
The Legal Intelligencer
September 4, 2009

The builder of the juvenile detention centers at the heart of the Luzerne County Courthouse corruption scandal entered his plea agreement before U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik Wednesday. Full Text


State Supreme Court Suspends Former PA Child Care Owner
The Legal Intelligencer Blog
September 1, 2009

Robert J. Powell, the lawyer and former juvenile detention center owner at the core of Luzerne County’s judicial corruption scandal, has been placed on temporary suspension by the state Supreme Court. Full Text


Jury Commissioner Indicted in Luzerne Co. Corruption Probe
The Legal Intelligencer Blog
September 1, 2009

A sixth Luzerne County courthouse official has been named by federal prosecutors in their ongoing corruption probe there. Full Text


Justices Send Another Luzerne County Case Back to Trial Court
The Legal Intelligencer
August 25, 2009

Disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan rubber stamped a notorious serial killer’s proposed findings of fact regarding his mental incompetency and ruled that he could not be executed, the state Supreme Court said in an order sending the case back to the common pleas court for a new hearing. Full Text


Former Luzerne County Judges Withdraw Their Guilty Pleas
The Legal Intelligencer
August 25, 2009

Hours after a federal judge rejected a motion by two disgraced former Luzerne County judges to reconsider their plea agreements, the duo’s lawyers filed papers formally withdrawing their guilty pleas. Full Text


Lokuta Asks Justices to Remove Sprague From Case
The Legal Intelligencer
August 24, 2009

Former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta has asked the state Supreme Court to exercise its King’s Bench powers and remove Court of Judicial Discipline Judge Richard A. Sprague from her case. Full Text


Ex-Luzerne Judges Ask for Reconsideration of Rejected Pleas
The Legal Intelligencer
August 21, 2009

Two disgraced former Luzerne County judges have asked that a federal judge reconsider his decision to reject their plea agreements. Full Text


PA Child Care Builder Reaches Plea Agreement
The Legal Intelligencer
August 14, 2009

The builder of the private juvenile detention centers at the heart of the Luzerne County corruption scandal has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, admitting that he failed to disclose his knowledge of a crime. Full Text


Special Master: Expunge Nearly All Luzerne Co. Juvenile Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
August 13, 2009

The Berks County senior judge appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review juvenile cases in Luzerne County has recommended that the justices speed his progress by handing down a sweeping order to vacate nearly all of the records of juveniles who appeared before a disgraced former judge there. Full Text


Filing: Conahan Was Luzerne Co. Courthouse ‘Boss’
The Legal Intelligencer
August 11, 2009

Former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan had such control over the county’s courthouse that he was referred to as “the boss,” “completely” controlled hiring practices and warned a former courthouse employee her actions were interfering with the business interests of a private juvenile detention center, according to a filing made by another former judge there.  Full Text


 Judge Recommends New Trial in Luzerne Defamation Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
August 5, 2009

A specially appointed judge has recommended the state Supreme Court vacate a $3.5 million defamation verdict handed down by a former Luzerne County judge, because he and one of the court’s former president judges were involved in a “tangled web of interconnected relationships” and had the ability to influence the manner in which cases were assigned. Full Text


High Court Will Preserve All Luzerne Co. Juvenile Records
The Legal Intelligencer
August 4, 2009

The state Supreme Court has agreed to preserve the records of all Luzerne County juveniles who appeared before a disgraced former judge there, according to a letter filed in federal court Friday. Full Text


Federal Judge Rejects Plea Agreements for Ex-Luzerne Judges
The Legal Intelligencer
August 3, 2009

The federal judge responsible for overseeing the sentencing of two former Luzerne County judges who have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges has rejected the judges’ plea agreements. Full Text


Ex-Luzerne Judges Created Culture of Fear, Corruption
The Legal Intelligencer
July 27, 2009

The two former Luzerne County judges who have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges effectively controlled the county for years and ruled through fear and intimidation, overseeing widespread corruption, including rampant case-fixing and payoffs. Full Text



Justices Expunge Records, Save Copies for Juveniles
The Legal Intelligencer
July 23, 2009

Days after attorneys for Luzerne County juveniles who appeared before a former judge there filed a brief in federal court criticizing the manner in which the state Supreme Court has handled the expungement of criminal records, the justices adopted a special master’s report to preserve some of those records under seal. Full Text


At Luzerne Juveniles Hearing, a Gulf Between Lawyers
The Legal Intelligencer
July 20, 2009

Midway through arguments over whether an erasure of records should apply to all juveniles adjudicated by a former Luzerne County judge, the state Supreme Court’s appointed special master on the issue posed a question. Full Text


Hearing Sheds New Light on Corruption Probe
The Legal Intelligencer
July 8, 2009

When the state Supreme Court granted a hearing to examine whether corruption in the Luzerne County Courthouse played a role in the judicial assignment of a defamation lawsuit, it did so to solely address that case. Full Text


Ciavarella Testifies at Special Hearing
The Legal Intelligencer
July 6, 2009

A disgraced former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court judge, who handled a defamation suit against a Wilkes-Barre newspaper in 2006, said Thursday he was unaware of any improprieties or irregularities in how the case was assigned. Full Text


Witnesses Tie Reputed Mobster to Luzerne Judge
The Legal Intelligencer
July 2, 2009

A pair of witnesses testified during a court hearing Wednesday that reputed northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss William “Billy” D’Elia had envelopes delivered to disgraced former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan at the courthouse and that Conahan met with D’Elia and another admitted felon multiple times to discuss fixing cases. Full Text


Juvenile Law Center Claims DA ‘Turned a Blind Eye’ in Ciavarella’s Court
The Legal Intelligencer
June 12, 2009

The Juvenile Law Center, in a brief filed with the state Supreme Court Tuesday, alleged that the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office “turned a blind eye” as several hundred youths appeared in court there without attorney representation. Full Text


Documents in Luzerne Probe Describe Judicial Shakedown
The Legal Intelligencer
June 10, 2009

Attorney Robert J. Powell, one of the former owners of the child detention facility at the heart of the Luzerne County judicial corruption probe, was the victim of a shakedown by two former judges, according to court documents filed Tuesday in connection with Powell’s plea agreement. Full Text


Luzerne Probe Said to Be Eyeing Criminal Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
June 1, 2009

Federal investigators in the Luzerne County judicial corruption probe are said to be looking at whether two indicted former judges may have helped fix criminal cases, sources have told The Legal. Full Text


‘Bad Kids’: Victims of Luzerne Scam Battle Stigma as They Fight to Reclaim Their Dreams
The Legal Intelligencer
May 29, 2009

When they returned from being sent away, they came home with a label: “bad kids.” Full Text


Second Phase of Luzerne Case Review Begins
The Legal Intelligencer

May 21, 2009

The Berks County senior judge appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review juvenile cases in Luzerne County has begun reviewing serious misdemeanor and low-level felony cases heard before a former judge there. Full Text


CJD Gives Lokuta 90 Days to Make Conspiracy Case
The Legal Intelligencer
May 14, 2009

Former Judge Ann H. Lokuta plans to present the testimony of a witness who would tie her disgraced Luzerne County colleagues to organized crime, her lawyer told the state Court of Judicial Discipline in a hearing Wednesday. Full Text


Judge to Expunge Juvenile Records Starting in June
The Legal Intelligencer
May 6, 2009

The Berks County senior judge appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review juvenile cases in Luzerne County will begin expunging court records for an estimated 800 youths in June, according to a notice issued by the high court Tuesday. Full Text


PA Child Care’s Lawyers Say Payoffs Were for Case Fixing
The Legal Intelligencer
May 5, 2009

In a potentially explosive document filed Monday, the attorneys for PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care claim that money paid to two former Luzerne County judges was not a “kids for cash” arrangement, but was part of a corrupt courthouse system that included fixing civil cases. Full Text


Additional Questions Surround Ankle Bracelet Service Provider
The Legal Intelligencer
May 4, 2009

During a rare en banc meeting of the Luzerne County Common Pleas Court in 2006, President Judge Michael T. Conahan offered the floor to representatives from Mid Atlantic Monitoring Services. Full Text


JCB Files Motion to Strike in Lokuta Case
The Legal Intelligencer
April 28, 2009

The state’s Judicial Conduct Board filed a response to ousted Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta’s brief in support of a new trial Monday, asking the court to strike several portions of what it terms an “everything but the kitchen sink” argument. Full Text


Speculation Intensifies Over Probe of Luzerne Judge
The Legal Intelligencer
April 28, 2009

The federal government and lawyers for Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Michael T. Toole are said to have been in discussions for weeks, sources have told The Legal, and the very public investigation of Luzerne County school districts is thought by some to be the government’s way of putting pressure on Toole to reach a plea agreement. Full Text


Yet Another Luzerne County Case Gets a Second Look
The Legal Intelligencer
April 27, 2009

The state Supreme Court has ordered further proceedings in a case in which former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan threw out a defense verdict and entered a JNOV for $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages against a doctor whom a personal injury plaintiff alleged to have conspired to delay a settlement in her favor. Full Text


For Luzerne Plaintiffs Bar, Tension From Probe Mounts
The Legal Intelligencer
April 13, 2009

News that federal investigators are examining files of several dozen auto insurance arbitration cases in Luzerne County has ratcheted up the tension members of the bar are feeling, lawyers say. Full Text


Lokuta’s Case Is a Potential Bomb for the Supreme Court
The Legal Intelligencer
April 10, 2009

After initially getting caught flat-footed, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has generally made all the right moves as it attempts to deal with the fallout emanating from the judicial wasteland known as Luzerne County. Full Text


High Court Grants Hearing in Luzerne Defamation Verdict
The Legal Intelligencer
April 8, 2009


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered a hearing to examine whether corruption in the Luzerne County Courthouse played a role in the assignment of a defamation lawsuit to a judge who has since pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. Full Text


FBI Seizes 79 UM/UIM Case Files From Luzerne Courthouse
The Legal Intelligencer
April 3, 2009

Federal investigators walked out of the Luzerne County Courthouse with 79 uninsured/underinsured motorist arbitration case files Thursday afternoon, as they continue their investigation into possible case fixing there. Full Text


Justices: Grim Can Expunge Luzerne Juvenile Records
The Legal Intelligencer
March 27, 2009

The state Supreme Court has granted a senior judge from Berks County the authority to expunge the records of a “substantial number” of juveniles who appeared before former Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. between 2003 and 2008. Full Text


Supreme Court Halts Election for Lokuta’s Seat on Bench
The Legal Intelligencer

March 26, 2009

The state Supreme Court has halted the election to fill former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Ann H. Lokuta’s seat on the bench until after the Court of Judicial Discipline reviews Lokuta’s claims that her trial was compromised by corruption in the courthouse and a conspiracy to oust her. Full Text


Justices Want Monthly Updates on Luzerne Court
The Legal Intelligencer
March 20, 2009


Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille sent the Luzerne County president judge a letter last week asking for monthly progress reports on improving the embattled court system there. Full Text


Special Master Files First Report on Luzerne County
The Legal Intelligencer
March 17, 2009

The special master appointed by the state Supreme Court to review juvenile court cases handled by a Luzerne County judge charged with taking kickbacks in exchange for sending children to a juvenile detention center provided the justices with his first report last week. Full Text


 Court Records: PA Child Care Builder Won Numerous Tax Assessment Challenges
The Legal Intelligencer
March 16, 2009


The builder of the juvenile detention center at the heart of the Luzerne County courthouse corruption probe appealed tax assessments on 13 of his properties over an 11-year period and ended up with a lower assessment value each time, court records show. Full Text


Feds Subpoena Insurance Company Records, Broaden Geographic Reach of Probe
The Legal Intelligencer
March 16, 2009


Federal investigators have subpoenaed at least one insurance company to testify about uninsured/underinsured motorist arbitrations in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties before a grand jury, The Legal Intelligencer has learned, indicating for the first time that the corruption probe has expanded geographically. Full Text


Another Luzerne Co. Judge Under Scrutiny: Sources
The Legal Intelligencer
March 12, 2009

Federal authorities are looking at Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Michael Toole as part of their investigation into alleged corruption at the Luzerne County Courthouse, sources have confirmed to The Legal Intelligencer.  Full Text


Judicial Conduct Board: Lokuta One of the ‘Disgraced’
The Legal Intelligencer
March 10, 2009


The Judicial Conduct Board filed Monday a reply to former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta’s application to stay an election that would appoint her successor. Full Text


Feds Eye Case Involving County-Owned Juvenile Facility: Sources
The Legal Intelligencer
March 9, 2009

When the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners set out to build a county-owned juvenile detention center in 2003, it encountered its most decisive opposition from a most unexpected source. Full Text


Rulings Benefited NE Pa. Hotel Patronized by D’Elia: Appeals Courts Used Strong Language in Overturning Conahan’s Decisions
The Legal Intelligencer

March 6, 2009

The owners of a resort hotel on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, where reputed mob boss William “Billy” D’Elia was a fixture, received a pair of favorable decisions in the Luzerne County courtroom of disgraced ex-Judge Michael T. Conahan that were later overturned in strongly worded opinions by appellate panels, an examination of court documents and interviews by The Legal Intelligencer have shown. Full Text


We All Failed the Kids in Luzerne — And We’re All Going to Pay the Price
The Legal Intelligencer
March 6, 2009

There are few things more frightening in a democratic society than a corrupt judge. Corrupt governors, presidents and legislators are more easily exposed by foes and the press, more routinely bounced from office by voters, if not by law enforcement. Despite what thrillers like “24″ might suggest, those politicians have a much harder time targeting individuals and making them suffer at the hands of state action. Full Text


Filing: Ex-Judge Met With Felons Twice a Month
The Legal Intelligencer
March 2, 2009

A former Luzerne County president judge used to hold meetings about twice a month with a reputed mob boss and a common friend — also an admitted felon — to discuss pending court cases, according to a supplement to a King’s Bench petition filed with the state Supreme Court Friday. Full Text


Libel Verdict Winner Urges Justices Not to Reopen Case
The Legal Intelligencer
February 27, 2009

A northeast Pennsylvania businessman has filed a strongly worded answer in opposition to a Wilkes-Barre newspaper’s petition to the state Supreme Court asking it to reopen discovery in a 2006 defamation case. Full Text


Sources Say FBI Interviewed Luzerne County Judges
The Legal Intelligencer
February 25, 2009

The FBI interviewed Luzerne County Common Pleas judges last week, sources have told The Legal.  Full Text


Phila. Bar Spoke Out About Luzerne Scandal (Letter to the Editor)
The Legal Intelligencer
February 25, 2009


On Jan. 27, 2009, the Philadelphia Bar Association issued a press release expressing outrage at the news of public corruption by two judges in Luzerne County, including the president judge. Full Text


Luzerne Prothonotary Leaves, Calls Presence ‘Distraction’
The Legal Intelligencer
February 24, 2009

Jill A. Moran, the Luzerne County prothonotary and law partner of a central figure in the ongoing courthouse corruption probe, has resigned her office, citing a distraction caused by her presence in the courthouse and a need for the county’s court operations to return to normal. Full Text


Sources Tie Admitted Felons to Luzerne Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer
February 23, 2009

Michael Conahan never made a secret of his relationship with Robert Kulick.  Even a year ago, the former president judge of Luzerne County and the friend of reputed mob boss William “Billy” D’Elia could be seen chatting in restaurants and bars – the same public venues where Kulick and D’Elia would meet, a former county judge said.  Full Text


Suggestions for Cleaning Up the Luzerne County Mess
The Legal Intelligencer
February 20, 2009

As the Luzerne County judicial scandal continues to unfold, two questions have been bothering me: How did this happen? And how does the judicial system recover?  Full Text


Stronger Response Is Needed From Bench and Bar to Unethical Judges
The Legal Intelligencer Editorial Board
February 20, 2009

The Pennsylvania judges have been amassing a troubling track record this past year — five have left the office because of criminal charges or findings of ethical violation.  Full Text


 

Luzerne Judges Plead Guilty in Corruption Case
The Legal Intelligencer
February 13, 2009


In a proceeding devoid of drama, two Luzerne County judges told a federal court judge Thursday they were guilty of accepting more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner and builder of two juvenile detention centers. Full Text


How Deep Is the Luzerne Co. Snake Pit? No One Is Sure
The Legal Intelligencer
February 13, 2009


With apologies to all the fine people and honest and hard-working lawyers and judges in Luzerne County, after digging into the judicial scandal for a few weeks I can safely say that I can’t throw a rock up in the air in this state without hitting someone who has a horror story or allegation or points out a troubling connection with regard to the county’s common pleas court. Full Text


Luzerne Court to Review Arbitration Process
The Legal Intelligencer
February 12, 2009

In the wake of a report that federal authorities are rumored to be investigating allegations of case fixing in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases, Luzerne County’s judges have launched a review of the court’s procedures to appoint neutral arbitrators in auto insurance claims. Full Text


Rumors: Luzerne Probe Eyes Alleged Case Fixing
The Legal Intelligencer
February 9, 2009

For a long time, auto insurance defense attorneys have considered it the cost of doing business in Luzerne County – the difficulty of finding an agreeable neutral arbitrator, the large settlements, the funny feeling that something was off. Full Text


Luzerne Court Official Charged With Embezzlement
The Legal Intelligencer
February 4, 2009

Federal prosecutors have charged a third Luzerne County court official with embezzling public funds a little more than a week after two common pleas court judges agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges. Full Text


Pa. Supreme Court Needs to Address Luzerne County Court Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer
February 4, 2009

Can you smell the stench coming from Luzerne County? Most everyone else has ever since the news broke that two common pleas judges had agreed to plead guilty to taking kickbacks in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to a private juvenile detention center. Full Text


Juvenile Cases May Get New Look Following Kickback Charges Against Former Judges
The Legal Intelligencer
February 3, 2009

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appears ready to reconsider a request to review hundreds of Luzerne County juvenile court cases in the wake of charges that two former judges accepted kickbacks from the owners of a private juvenile detention center. Full Text


Ciavarella-Powell Relationship Recorded in Court
The Legal Intelligencer
February 2, 2009

In January 2008, before the start of trial in Slusser v. Laputka Bayless Ecker and Cohn , defense attorney Jeffrey McCarron confronted Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella about his relationship with plaintiffs’ counsel, Robert J. Powell. Full Text


 Pa. Supreme Court Needs to Address Luzerne County Court Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer
January 30, 2009

Can you smell the stench coming from Luzerne County? Most everyone else has ever since the news broke that two common pleas judges had agreed to plead guilty to taking kickbacks in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to a private juvenile detention center. But apparently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court hasn’t gotten a strong enough whiff up on Mt. Olympus of what’s shaping up as one of the worst judicial scandals this state has ever seen. Because they’ve said and done precious little. Full Text


Judges’ Plea Agreements Cast Pall Over Luzerne Court
The Legal Intelligencer
January 28, 2009

Two Luzerne County judges have conditionally agreed to plead guilty and serve more than seven years each in prison for their roles in a Dickensian scheme to channel juvenile offenders into a private detention facility in exchange for payments from the owners. Full Text


 Court of Judicial Discipline Ousts Luzerne Judge for Misconduct
The Legal Intelligencer
December 15, 2008

The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline voted Dec. 9 to remove Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Ann H. Lokuta from the bench and barred her from holding judicial office in the future, following a sanctions hearing in her case. Full Text