Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Godless Huzzah to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court!

They did it!  With one stroke of the pen.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated thousands of juvenile convictions entered by that corrupt judge who was taking kickbacks for sending kids to juvenile detention.  As a quick refresher, the judge was railroading kids, denying them access to counsel, and sending them to detention at a rate more than double the rest of the state.  Vacating all of those convictions is one giant good deed. 

Rather than waste everyone's time by taking the injustice one case at a time, leaving it to the individual juveniles to figure out they were wronged and find attorneys to pursue each individual case, they just fixed every single one.  The Court's opinion, a mere 9 pages, vacated every conviction in every case heard by former Judge Mark Ciavarella 2003 and 2008.  "[T]his Court simply cannot have confidence that any juvenile matter adjudicated by Ciavarella during this period was tried in a fair and impartial manner."  The vast, vast majority of these will not be able to be re-tried, but there are fewer than 100 juvenile defendants who remain under court supervision and may be re-tried.

The Court had previously overturned hundreds of cases and at the time I declared it a good start.  But then in July, the Court seemed poised to destroy all of the records of all juveniles who may have been involved.  I worried then that maybe the Court wasn't all that eager to probe too deeply into just how much corruption had occurred on their watch.  I'm thrilled to see I was right on the first point and wrong on the second.

At the risk of sounding too much like a perky pediatric surgeon (think Grey's Anatomy), I think this is awesome.  It is the fairest, most just thing to do.  It is also the best possible way to show defendants in Pennsylvania that the court system takes protecting their rights seriously.  Anything less than this response would have been an insult.

On a side note, Ciavarella is a defendant in a civil suit stemming from his kickback scheme.  He's representing himself, lending further proof to that old adage that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.


Jeff Gamso said...

And, of course, the judges demand judicial immunity from that civil suit.

Anonymous said...

i am SO happy to hear about this. i've been following this story for a while and i could not be more pleased with this result.

S said...

Jeff, I'm hoping for once these bad facts will make what we would consider good law. I will scream if they're granted judicial immunity for activities that got them federal convictions.

KK, I know, it's such great news. But we can't forget this only deals with one of the two judges. There is still another judge out there.

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