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Evil Men:

A while back I posted a commentary about the two judges in Wilkes-Barre PA who sentenced several thousand kids to time in the local detention center in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks from the operator of the detention facility. I wrote:

Maybe it's just because I am a parent with two kids of my own, or maybe I'm just a soft-hearted romantic, but to do this to young people for the sake of a few bucks (or 2.6 million bucks, or 260 million bucks) is -- well, you pick your own adjective. One has to assume that lives were ruined because of this -- 3 months in juvy for a high school kid who doesn't belong there is a terrible, terrible thing - and I hope these two (for the record, and for the benefit of Internet readers in the 22nd century, and to insure that their names do not disappear from the List of the Wicked, the judges in question were Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and Judge Michael T. Conahan) get the punishment they so truly deserve. 2009, I hope, won't give us anything more shameful than this.

The Times had a story last week giving more of the gory details of how the two arranged the scam, and it makes for a sad, sad story of venality and greed of the worst possible kind. I'm horrified to discover, among other things, that one of the two (Michael Conahan) has a law degree from Temple, where I teach law - an ugly stain on a fine institution.

Richard Aubrey (mail):
Maybe you could get him to speak on ethics, as Lynne Stewart did not long ago.
Pay him a per diem and all that.
4.5.2009 8:35am
pmorem (mail):
The State provides a ready place for evil men to work their deeds. It offers the lure of corrupting power to those who are easily seduced.

(This is not to imply that they can't find other places to work evil.)
4.5.2009 9:19am
AlanP (mail):
What I find most disturbing is that there were ample opportunities for others to question and/or investigate what was going on and it appears to have taken far too long for anyone to act. This does not excuse the Judges, but it does make you wonder who is watching.

The State provides a ready place for evil men to work their deeds. It offers the lure of corrupting power to those who are easily seduced.


Except that the the source of the money was privatization of a State function. Seeing everything through an anti government lens can distort the view.
4.5.2009 9:28am
AlanP (mail):
What I find most disturbing is that there were ample opportunities for others to question and/or investigate what was going on and it appears to have taken far too long for anyone to act. This does not excuse the Judges, but it does make you wonder who is watching.

The State provides a ready place for evil men to work their deeds. It offers the lure of corrupting power to those who are easily seduced.


Except that the the source of the money was privatization of a State function. Seeing everything through an anti government lens can distort the view.
4.5.2009 9:28am
John (mail):
An ugly stain? Did Temple teach corruption? Is there a law school alumni body no member of which has been evil?
4.5.2009 9:39am
ReaderY:
Indeed, this episode does tend to suggest that privatization of state functions can create negative incentives and can be a source of corruption.

I still find it incredulous that these judges were charged exclusively with federal crimes, and the crimes involved were crimes against the mails and the telephone system. They weren't charged with any crimes against either children or justice. Because, in our system, both children and justice are state responsibilities under the general police power, while the mails and the telephone system are federal responsibilities and because state laws and powers have become subordinated to and diminished by federal powers in a manner never intended by the Framers, the protection of both children and justice must take a back seat and get a lower priority in our society than protection of the mail and the telephone system.
4.5.2009 10:01am
ReaderY:
As these men's case so unfortunately illustrates, justice can potentially be a commodity that can be bought and sold. It is only morality that regards it as not "naturally" being or deserving to be treated like a commodity, and hence which keeps it from being subject to federal commerce regulation. But under Raich v. Ashcroft, Congress can regulate a substance to suppress as well as encourage its being treated like a commodity. Can it regulate a service in the same fashion?
4.5.2009 10:04am
Baelln1:
Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes ?

Obviously, more government regulation is required to fix this stark failure of a government system.

Perhaps creation of a noble, private organization... like a state bar association would prevent future legal malefactors from reaching positions of power over the citzenry ?
4.5.2009 10:07am
Visitor Again:
The word I would choose to describe what these two judges did is "despicable." They may have irreparably harmed some children.

My understanding is that not only were children sent to juvenile prison who should not have been sent there, but that some who should have been sent there received much longer terms than they should have. I wonder how many of these juveniles never rejoined their class at school--either because they dropped out of school altogether or because they fell behind. I wonder how many picked up criminal habits in the juvenile facilities to which they were sent. I hope they are able to collect damage awards in civil lawsuits despite the broad scope that has been given absolute judicial immunity.

One of the reasons the judges' scheme went undetected so long was that the vast majority of their victims were unrepresented by counsel. Apparently the judge who did the sentencing took steps to make sure they were unrepresented. Even so, the public defender's office apparently knew of the unjustifiable sentencing practices and ought to have brought them to the attention of a higher court, but apparently did nothing. Few are the lawyers, whether public defender or private counsel, willing to risk their career and their livelihood by taking on judges who abuse their power.

I know a private lawyer who got blackballed here in Los Angeles County because he fought for his juvenile clients as hard as he would for adult clients charged with crime. No more court appointments for him and unfavorable treatment whenever he appeared as a privately retained lawyer--no continuances, no court approval of deals for his clients, unfavorable rulings wherever the judge had discretion and so on.
4.5.2009 10:46am
Barrister's Handshake (mail) (www):
Even worse, these guys only got seven years for ruining thousands of lives.
4.5.2009 11:05am
DiverDan (mail):
One matter which is never mentioned in the story is the sad lack of any internal controls in County operations which might have prevented this, or at least made it much more difficult to pull off. Accountants are taught early and often about internal controls, and it is a primary focus of business audits. You never allow the person in charge of Accounts Receivable to have access to the Bank Deposits, and you never allow the person in charge of Accounts Payable to also control the check-writing function. The lack of internal controls is what makes embezzlement so much easier. It was because these judges could BOTH control the juvenile sentencing function AND control the decisions on where offenders were to be incarcerated that enabled the scheme. Granted, the scheme might still have been possible if those functions were split, but only if the Developer/Owner of the private Juvenile Facility had first managed (by means fair or foul) to get the County contract for juvenile incarceration from someone (presumably a County Commissioner) OUTSIDE the Court.
4.5.2009 11:12am
Steven Latrell:
( (7 year sentence) * (365 days/year) ) / (2500 kids) =~ 1 day / kid

Under the circumstances, the sentence seems disproportionately light. Especially when considering that the 2500 number is just the kids in the first wave.

Honestly, I believe these two human beings should be sentenced to serve the remainder of their natural lives at hard labor.
4.5.2009 11:18am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
There were complaints. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied them. They reopened the matter when the arrests came (or were imminent). The investigation is continuing into whether (or how many) others were in on the scam.

While seven years seems very light, I do suspect that judges have a harder time in prison than most.
4.5.2009 11:26am
Dave N (mail):
one of the two (Michael Conahan) has a law degree from Temple, where I teach law - an ugly stain on a fine institution
Is there a law school alumni body no member of which has been evil?
Ted Bundy went to my law school (though he didn't graduate). I think he wins in the evil department.
4.5.2009 11:28am
Dave N (mail):
On a substantive level, there was a massive breakdwon at just about every level. As a career prosecutor, the question that popped into my mind was, "Where was the DA?"

The follow up question is, "Why wasn't he doing anything?"

The prosecuting authority in Wilkes-Barre should have been aware that something rotten was going on and acted. They were the ones who prosecuted some of these kids for non-sensical offenses and didn't bat an eye when these corrupt judges locked these kids up.

They give all prosecutors everywhere a black eye. I sincerely believe a prosecutor's primary responsibility is to seek justice. They didn't. The Wilkes Barre prosecutors who contenanced this should be fired. No ifs. No ands. No buts.
4.5.2009 11:36am
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
I know on a legal blog, it's probably a bit taboo: am I the only one willing to forget the trial and get on with the lynching?

If found guilty, I would like to see these men put to death. I believe that what ever instrument is used to send these men to hell ought to symbolically represent that those who practice law are held to a higher standard of trust among the people, and so the outrage is much more when the citizens are betrayed. If you're not at my level of outrage yet, just listen to 2 of the kids wronged by these men.

I think this is very comparable to these two men raping 5,000 children.
4.5.2009 11:43am
LLVH:
To DaveN,

I represent a few kids from Wilkes-Barre in unrelated manners. One of them told me a story about how he got arrested for a minor crime. Once the town prosecutors got wind of who the judge was, the DA and the entire city worked together to delay resolution of the case to avoid this judge. Apparently, the judge took it upon himself and ignored the DA's recommendations to sentence kids.
4.5.2009 11:45am
Joe McDermott (mail):
I think the Pennsylvania legislature should amend its murder statute to exclude the killing of either of these two by any of their victims from the definition of actionable murder.
4.5.2009 11:48am
Dave N (mail):
LLVH,

If it was a minor crime, the prosecutors could ahve outright dismissed to avoid those two judges. It was their call.
4.5.2009 11:53am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Could the Feds have this county declared a criminal enterprise under RICO?
4.5.2009 11:57am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
As a former student of Prof. Post's and someone with JD, MBA and LL.M. degrees from Temple, I am ashamed as well that my school graduated this lowlife.
4.5.2009 12:13pm
Curt Fischer:
Thanks to Joe McDermott and the_pathogen for illustrating so starkly that our criminal justice system overall performs a vital and positive role in our society, despite the occasional case of corruption and rank injustice.
4.5.2009 12:19pm
ReaderY:
The problem is the sentence isn't especially light for mail or wire fraud. It makes complete sense for those crimes, which are basically intended for white collar crimes involving money, not something physical like incarceration. But these crimes only peripherally apply to these people's conduct. They simply weren't charged with crimes that really reflected what those people actually did.
4.5.2009 12:20pm
Steven Latrell:
I do suspect that judges have a harder time in prison than most.


Yeah, I just bet these judges will have a real hard time.

Manacled, breaking rocks in the quarry fourteen hours a day. No shade. Rationed water. The overseer has a lash.
4.5.2009 12:22pm
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
In a just society, their heads would be mounted on pikes in front of the court house for the next 10 generations as a warning to others.
4.5.2009 12:33pm
hattio1:
Dave N,
I agree with you that the DA SHOULD have been on this. But from what I've seen most DA's don't believe there is anything like too harsh of a sentence.
4.5.2009 12:51pm
TRE:
The 7 year plea bargain shouldn't be accepted by the court.
4.5.2009 1:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
DiverDan: I agree with the premise that internal controls are needed, but I fail to see how it applies here. Nothing about this except the kickbacks themselves -- which were external, not internal -- was secret. There was no embezzlement here.
4.5.2009 1:54pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I know on a legal blog, it's probably a bit taboo: am I the only one willing to forget the trial and get on with the lynching?

If found guilty, I would like to see these men put to death
They already pleaded guilty.
4.5.2009 1:55pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

In a just society, their heads would be mounted on pikes in front of the court house for the next 10 generations as a warning to others.

Not severe enough. Hang their entire bodies in cages. No burial or cremation for scum like this.
4.5.2009 2:24pm
Profane (mail) (www):
More links:

A recent 20/20 story


Ciavarella claims Judicial Immunity


And the latest wrinkle in the sordid saga:

FBI takes 87 case files involving arbitration awards from county court


FBI removes judge's case files


FBI has file of $3.1M award linked to judge

I have lived in Luzerne County for less than two years now, and have been thoroughly disgusted by the rampant corruption in the local government. There are now even many long term residents who think that the best option would be to get rid of everyone and start over.
4.5.2009 2:24pm
Frater Plotter:
In a just society, their heads would be mounted on pikes in front of the court house for the next 10 generations as a warning to others.
"... that some kickbacks come at too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes, and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Ciavarella?"
4.5.2009 2:32pm
Pragmaticist:
The extremely lenient sentences meted out to these two criminals is yet more salt added to the wound.
4.5.2009 2:37pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
All these harsh comments are a little strange. The injustices were pointed out again and again to the Penn. Supreme Court, and they did nothing. Do you want to jail them? $2.6M seems like a lot of money, but we have judges in LA County who make that much in 10 years, and I think that some of them have ruined more lives than the Penn. judges. Anyone want to put them in prison? We have a lot of really evil judges in the USA, and this Penn. pair is just the tip of the iceberg.
4.5.2009 3:18pm
Non est:
When someone commits a serious but non-murder crime such as armed robbery, or battery, or a massive embezzlement, and then gets out of prison ten years later, we talk of them having "paid their debt to society". What about crimes where it's not possible in the span of a natural life to pay one's debt back to society, like multiple murders, or the crimes of these two men? Should we still try to extract as much out of them for the benefit of the victims, or, if the victims can't be even partially compensated, society in general? I'm with the posters who advocate for hard labor. These men have relinquished any claim on dignity. Give 'em the toughest labor we have, use them for medical experiments, harvest their organs--there is a lot of value in a bare human organism that we exempt from the normal logic of value.
4.5.2009 3:32pm
DiverDan (mail):
David Nieporent, the fact that this wasn't embezzlement doesn't mean that internal control mechanisms are irrelevant. The fact is that, secret or not, the scheme was made much easier by virtue of the fact that the same judge who had control over sentencing decisions also exercised de facto control over the decision to contract with the private company that owned and controlled the Juvenile Facility AND decided where to send them. The essence of internal controls is to ensure that decision making authority is sufficiently divided so as to make corruption, whether embezzlement or taking kickbacks, harder to arrange. Query whether the scheme described in the NYT article ever could have started if the Judge who had the power to sentence the kids had no authority to enter into a sweetheart development deal for the private jail, no power over the budget which resulted in closing the County owned juvenile detention center, and no power to steer kids to the private jail (i.e., if there was a separate detention authority, like the U.S. Beareau of Corrections, which does not take orders from the sentencing judge on where a convict will serve), as opposed to the County detention center. Internal controls and proper division of authority won't completely prevent corruption, but it can make it harder to arrange and easier to catch.
4.5.2009 3:57pm
Splunge:
I'm horrified to discover, among other things, that one of the two (Michael Conahan) has a law degree from Temple, where I teach law - an ugly stain on a fine institution.

So why don't you do something about it? Don't just wring your hands on your blog. Get the Academic Senate to revoke his degree. (And don't give me crap about rules, man. I've been on Academic Senates myself. Like Congress, there's always ways around the rules you want something badly enough. Want it.)

Strike them from the roll of alumni. Put an official Temple University Curse on them, written on parchment in red ink and read out solemnly to the graduating class next year, printed in the alumni newsletter for a year. We revile and despise and reject you. You are no longer one of us.

You should react with anger, not merely sorrow, so the rest of us know you share our fury, so that we know you know the difference between tragedy and evil when you (or one of your arrogant as Lucifer graduates) next primly lecture us peasants standing in the well of your Courtroom on the subject.
4.5.2009 4:00pm
Dave N (mail):
Hattio1,

I believe that when appropriate, sentences should be harsh. I am a death penalty prosecutor and have no problem seeking it. I have asked for LWOP and not blinked an eye or felt an ounce of compassion for the defendant.

But I also started my career prosecuting juveniles. They are given their own separate system for a reason. The prosecutors there were remiss in not recognizing that.

And while I agree that most prosecutors do not mind seeing harsher as opposed to lenient sentences, that is a far cry from what happened in Wilkes Barre.
4.5.2009 4:15pm
trad and anon (mail):
This is the kind of case that tests my opposition to the death penalty. I hope their co-conspirators don't get off as easy as the judges did.

Sadly the people involved in this conspiracy can't possibly have enough money to compensate the thousands of victims here. I'd be imposing a lot in punis if I were on the jury in the civil suit.
4.5.2009 5:00pm
Ken Arromdee:
Give 'em the toughest labor we have, use them for medical experiments, harvest their organs--there is a lot of value in a bare human organism that we exempt from the normal logic of value.

The problem with any form of "paying back society" where society gains something tangible is the conflict of interest. Once there's value involved, there's room for corruption.

If you think locking kids up to get kickbacks is bad, just wait until they start sentencing kids to organ removal to get kickbacks.
4.5.2009 5:55pm
ChrisTS (mail):
EV: After I emailed you, I did some more digging on my own. The reach of these co-conspirators was long and involved several other persons, notably the local lawyer who owned the private detention cetner and shared a Florida condo (and a boat named "Reel Justice") with the judges. But the bit of news that, for some reason, really struck me was this, from The Inquirer:


On the first day at Camp Adams, Charlie met with a psychologist. After several hours of interviews, the psychologist said Charlie had an antisocial disorder, anxiety, depression, and a host of other maladies.
The Balasavages wanted Charlie to see another doctor, one covered by their medical insurance. But the county said no.
Charlie's parents and lawyers have discovered that the psychologist, Frank Vita, is Conahan's brother-in-law.


Charlie more or less broke down at 'camp,' got caught with maryj when he was out and sent back before one of these monsters who screaned at him that he was a 'loser' and always would be. Three years later, Charlie has been through several institutions and is trying to get his life back together. His parents are in debt because of their costs in all this.



I'm not inclined to violence, but I do think it is difficult to imagine an appropriate sentence for these creeps. I'm trying to get a post together for my own blog, but I become so enraged when I think about these men - and our state Supreme Court - that it is difficult to write coherent prose.
4.5.2009 6:26pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Oops. Sorry, David Post. I had sent EV a note about the Times story and did not see that you authored the post.
4.5.2009 6:29pm
Steven Latrell:
I'm with the posters who advocate for hard labor. These men have relinquished any claim on dignity. Give 'em the toughest labor we have, use them for medical experiments, harvest their organs—there is a lot of value in a bare human organism that we exempt from the normal logic of value.


Yes, in this case, I believe that life at hard labor would be just.

But I disagree with the proposition that “[t]hese men have relinquished any claim on dignity.” No, they are entitled to some dignity. I believe that our society ought to remember that they are men. Yea, men who willingly turned to evil. But still human beings.

Work —even hard work—   —like raising a child— is not inherently undignified.

Perhaps it is cruel, but I believe these men should work with some hope of a pardon.

And, if they and their families so wish, following their sentences in this world, they should be accorded a Christian burial.
4.5.2009 6:30pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Except that the the source of the money was privatization of a State function. Seeing everything through an anti government lens can distort the view.
The response would be that this simply shows that privatization of State functions isn't a solution to the State's inability. It can simply screw that up as badly as it would screw up providing the functions directly. Privatization does not fix the fundamental incentive problem, it just shifts it a bit.
4.5.2009 7:10pm
sometime juror:

While seven years seems very light, I do suspect that judges have a harder time in prison than most.


I dunno. I once heard testimony from a jailhouse snitch who had learned guardhouse lawyering from his cellmate, the ex federal judge. It seems that legal knowledge is in demand in prison, for some reason.

As far as the sentence, what would happen to someone who had molested thousands of children ... for profit?
4.5.2009 7:34pm
Wayne Lusvardi (mail) (www):
Not considering the kickback scheme, what is the qualitative difference between what these two judges did and what California does when it mandates juvenile delinquents to work on environmental work crews (symbolic chain gangs)removing "native species" from around upper income estate homes? Do such environmental forced work crews smack of something barbaric and Stalinesque? I'm uncomfortable with this practice but would like to know what legal scholars and practitioners think.
4.5.2009 7:42pm
not a lawyer:
They deserve the death penalty. Death. Both of them.

They used their position to profit themselves, and did it by stealing life from thousands of others.

I find the death penalty barbaric and of little use. I've never advocated its use. Until now. This crime requires justice. Mideval, biblical, shia, eye for an eye justice. No pettifogging.

Death. That is the only just sentence here, and in this case more than any other, the scale of justice must be brought to balance. Death.
4.5.2009 9:08pm
CRW:
Why did the govt agree to such a plea bargain? Is there a way of finding out who in the Justice Dept agreed to such lenient sentences and querying them as to the reasoning?

One of the victims was a young girl sentenced to three months at a detention center for harassment after she made fun of the assistant principal of her high school on her MySpace page. I suspect that no action can be taken against that asst principal who is probably still enjoying his or her position as a petty tyrant. Has the local teachers union made any statements?

Given that the entire legal system of Wilkes-Barre broke down perhaps the town should be treated like the Teamsters Union and be put under some external party authorized to clean it up.
4.5.2009 9:55pm
ArthurKirkland:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked to review thse issues long before its hand was forced by public disclosures.

It declined.

Perhaps one of the criminal justice experts should check my math, but if two men have been convicted for receiving millions of dollars of kickbacks for sending undeserving children to a detention facility, it should be close to a prosecutorial slam dunk to advance charges against someone for paying the bribes (and, no doubt, making untold millions in filthy profits at the expense of shattered young lives). Yet so far there has been no scent of a charge, not even a hint of an investigation.

One of the owners of the detention center that profited is the son of a former chief justice of the Pennsylania Supreme Court.

That son also owns a sister detention facility on the other side of the Commonwealth. There has been neither an accusation of wrongdoing nor any public evidence of an inquiry with respect to the second facility.

But the district attorney of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) has, remarkably, already assured the public that the owner of the detention facilities not only had nothing to do with any wrongdoing . . . and, indeed, has been "a victim" of this situation.

The D.A. is familiar with the detention facility owner and with the former Supreme Court justice. One is his brother, the other his father.

There may be an innocent explanation of these circumstances . . . but an investigation seems appropriate.

As does a new set of investigators.
4.5.2009 9:59pm
ReaderY:

Not considering the kickback scheme, what is the qualitative difference between what these two judges did and what California does when it mandates juvenile delinquents to work on environmental work crews (symbolic chain gangs)removing "native species" from around upper income estate homes? Do such environmental forced work crews smack of something barbaric and Stalinesque? I'm uncomfortable with this practice but would like to know what legal scholars and practitioners think.


I think there's e world of difference between a harsh but honest judge on the one hand, and a dishonest judge on the other. You may think sending teenagers to do roadside work too harsh a punishment. But California apparently has decided otherwise. A judge who honestly attempts to implement California's policy is rightly shielded with immunity from whatever opinion people have about the policy itself.
4.6.2009 12:35am
ReaderY:
I want to throw in an additional item that the Conspirators' haven't yet blogged about: the recent New York Times article on organized Chinese criminal gangs who snatch and sell children as a business, both to Chinese who want sons, and to orphanages who will give them to unsuspecting Americans as orphans.

One reason society has for not creating a market in something is that the existence of a market creates an incentive for crime. As these two situations illustrate, it's entirely rational for a state to decide that in some cases, the negative collateral effects of a market -- such as everyone having to fear for their children being kidnapped from them and wrongly imprisoned or sold for profit -- outweigh the positive benefits of privatization, which is generally presented as a somewhat more efficient and more productive bureaucracy. People could easily, and certainly rationally, conclude that the costs and risks of even rare collateral consequences such as these are so overwhelmingly great that the expected loss from them far outweighs the benefits of greater efficiency.

These risks could certainly be reflected in straightforward economic transactional terms. If private prisons had to obtain kickback insurance to cover this type of loss, and the children involved were given genuinely fair compensations with premiums reflecting the real risks and costs, counties might find that the cost savings from privatization wouldn't be worth the insurance premiums. Similarly, if orphanages had to obtain insurance covering the possibility that the "orphans" parents weren't as claimed and the insurance had to pay for the real parents' pain and suffering and the like, the premiums might be so great that society might be better off not paying for adoptions at all.

I'll also point out that insurance doesn't necessarily cover the whole picture where human life and pain is involved. Society can rationally decide that some risks are better prevented than insured for.
4.6.2009 12:50am
Wayne Lusvardi (mail) (www):
Reader Y:
Thank you for your reply. What I was driving at was the moral hazard involved in using juvenile delinquents for environmental "chain gangs." A judge or a juvenile detention facility may have the authority to use juvenile offenders in such a way, but does this create a perverse incentive for continually adjudicating an infinite supply of delinquents to benefit the property values of the "patrician" class?
Just because there are no kickbacks involved, is this still the sort of corrections system we want for juveniles? I imagine those with a religious sensibility may have a different perception of this than the legal community.
4.6.2009 12:56am
Ricardo (mail):
$2.6M seems like a lot of money, but we have judges in LA County who make that much in 10 years, and I think that some of them have ruined more lives than the Penn. judges. Anyone want to put them in prison?

If they are ruining people's lives in exchange for money, I'm sure the LA U.S. Attorney's office would be interested in any evidence you have to provide. Otherwise, there's no valid comparison even given the deliberately vague nature of your post.

If you die because a doctor did a crappy job, your family can sue him for malpractice. If he was negligent beyond a certain degree, depending on the state, he might even be prosecuted for manslaughter. But if he denies you treatment based on receiving a side-payment, that ought to be murder. There's a big moral and legal difference.
4.6.2009 6:05am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Everything about juvenile justice in Hawaii is secret. So I suppose this, or something else bad, could be going on where I live. There are bitter complaints about the operatiion of our Familky Court, but no way (that I can see) to investigate them.
4.6.2009 9:17am
PersonFromPorlock:
IANAL but it seems like a federal investigation under 18 USC 242 (violation of rights under color of law) would be appropriate: not only of the two judges but also of other state and county officials for their peculiar inaction. In fact, the absence of such an investigation is, um, pretty striking.
4.6.2009 10:03am
Arr-Squared (mail):
"Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?"

I love it when someone quotes Plato in the original Latin.
4.6.2009 12:39pm
LaserH (mail) (www):
The wholesale slaughter of the Constitution and American citizens - vis-a-vis cronyism and corruption of our Courts is nothing new.

However, what is contemporary is the transfer to normality of the American public to internet use and the ability to google or look up Court rulings, pleadings and Most importantly - the Code/Rule(s) of Law.

We have publicized for years the eToys case and how the attorneys confessed to supplication of false affidavits (34) and deliberately deceiving the Court for $300 million in fraud.

Inexplicably the Dept of Justice gave the law firms Unlawful, implied, blanket, immunity and the promise of future willful blindness and this Cover Up allowed the Petters and Dreier Ponzi schemes to reach heights that were previously considered unfathomable.

When we reported the bad faith acts of a local US Attorney to the CA Public Corruption Unit - that USA summarily disbanded the Unit and threatened career prosecutors with disparagment.

Then there was a Grand Push to nominate the wayward USA to Fed Dist Ct Judge. In the meantime two Chief Justices stepped down (quietly) whilst one Judge threatened action against the schemes and was speciously promoted off the case to the Circuit Court.

This is a National problem - RS Tare addressed fraud in his case and the Magistrate Judge stated he could not submit anything into the record and that all pro se materials had to be reviewed for 30 days prior to the Clerk accepting them into the record - violating almost every Federal Rule of Proc there is - the Judge has now resigned - but the damage was done.

In Florida - dear Meryl Lanson an owner of Barons' a defrauded chain of stores - rec'd approval to be treated fairly under the American Disabilities Act and then - on a day she could not appear due to her illness - the Judge said the Court was not able to handle any ADA individuals and summarily dismissed everyone of her briefings in absentia.

When Judges feel so immune to act in an arbitrary &capricious manner - via Color of Law - to abuse the most innocent of Citizens.

That is what revolutions are made Of!
4.6.2009 1:45pm
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
I love it when someone quotes Plato in the original Latin.

1. That line was written by Juvenal, not Plato.
2. If Plato had, it would be in Greek, not Latin
4.6.2009 5:05pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
It is good to see that the "from the top down" lawlessness and disrespect for the law started by the Bush Administration is coming to an end under Obama. I am sure there are hundreds of other Republican judges quaking in their boots right now.
4.6.2009 5:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Brian G,

Any evidence, besides your own partisan hatred, that these two despicable judges are Republican? I would suspect they are not, given the political makeup of Wilkes Barre (overwhelmingly Democrat) but I could be wrong. I just am not making partisan assumptions.
4.6.2009 6:45pm
subpatre (mail):
Privatization? Good grief! It's not privatizing as long as the use (of privately held facilities) is decided (in secret) by the government.

And that is the key here, secrecy. There is no compelling reason for secret courts. If (a big 'if') juvenile expungement is good policy, then let the public judge. If our society can tolerate rehabilitation and restoration to felons —and society is moving toward this policy except for sex offenses— it should certainly be able to welcome restoration and sealing of juvenile records when the kids come of age.

It is the secrecy of the juvenile courts that created the 'try them as black an adult' system that (in secret) allows arbitrary, personal or political decisions to alter how a child gets tried.

Secrecy is at the center of this corruption. Privatization was only one of the many methods this evil and corrupt bureaucracy used to exploit the cover that secrecy afforded.
4.7.2009 12:07am
Patrick from Oz (mail):
I have never and hope to never come across a more appalling miscarriage of justice. I also think that these people should face the death penalty, they betrayed a sacred trust bestowed upon them and there is no point half-punishing it. They should certainly be stripped of their degrees and banned from practising law anywhere in the US for life, as well.

And they absolutely should be fully liable in civil suit. They weren't in exercise of the judicial function. No public interest is served by protecting fraudsters masquerading as judges.
4.7.2009 12:52am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Considering the logistics of this situation, there had to have been a lot of people who knew about it even if not actively involved. A lot. All of whom should rot in hell. Well, they will, but I was kind of hoping it would start sooner rather than later.
I hope some entity goes into this with an unlimited budget. Sort of like Walsh and Iran-Contra. Get everybody.
4.7.2009 8:06am

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