The LuLac Edition #707, Jan. 27th, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: THE LUZERNE COUNTY COURTHOUSE.
REVIEW BOARD SPEAKS
An official with the state Judicial Conduct board announced today he is prepared to file a petition seeking the immediate suspension of Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. Joseph Massa Jr., chief counsel for the JCB, said the Supreme Court has the authority to suspend any judge who has been charged with a felony. He said he suspects the court will soon issue an order suspending Conahan and Ciavarella. If the court does not take that action Massa said he will file a petition with the state's Court of Judicial Discipline, asking the court to issue a suspension pending the outcome of the criminal case against the jurists.
This is the same Judicial Review board that brought action against former Judge Ann Lokuta.
Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas judges will vote for a new president judge on Friday, according to a news release from President Judge Chester B. Muroski. The long time jurist became the acting president judge on Monday when he announced Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. resigned from the position. Ciavarella, 58, and former president judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, were charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with an alleged scheme to defraud the federal government by concealing $2.6 million earned illegally through placement of juveniles in juvenile detention facilities. Muroski said that Ciavarella, who remains a Luzerne County judge, will have a vote for his successor.
When this story broke, many wondered who the Judge would be in this blockbuster case. Senior U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik has been assigned to preside over the criminal case of Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. The assignment of Kosik clears the way for the scheduling of a hearing at which Ciavarella and Conahan are expected to enter guilty pleas to charges that were filed yesterday by U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson. Sources say a hearing is set for Feb. 12th.
CLASS ACTION SUIT
Attorney Barry Dyler has signaled an intention that he will file a class action suit against the Judges and the County. With the cash strapped county on the brink, this is a good news, bad news story. The good news is justice will finally come for the youth railroaded to the Juvie center, the bad news is it will cost the county....again.
CONEY ISLAND RETURNS
The original Coney Island hot dog eatery in Scranton is set to return in about 6 weeks. The landmark restaurant was torched by arson but is on the way back. Coney Island has long been a haven for dog lovers and political rumors, two mainstays on their menu.
A story like this opens up the media to all types of opinions. A woman from Scranton called Corbett up on WILK today and said the Courthouse should be turned into a hotel. Her point was that everyone who enters there leaves corrupt at some level. There are many nhonorable, hard working people at the Courthouse so her comments were a little off base. But if there are more lawsuits, the County might have to open a Bed and Breakfast to pay off the legal fees.