Friday, August 12, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1712, August 12th, 2011



6:50AM Sandy Fonzo is being interviewed by WBRE TV’s Andy Mehalshick. Fonzo is surrounded by a cadre of supporters wearing tee shirts with the visage of her late son Edward Kenzakoski III.
7:01AM A federal employee comes to the 4th floor and opens, then re-locks Courtroom number 1.
7:05AM Three federal employees emerge from the Judge’s Chambers. One most likely a supervisor of the other two outlines the duties for the day. One worker asks if this will require overtime. The Supervisor says, “No we’ll be out fairly soon. This is a Thursday and every Thursday in the summer time Judge Kosik likes to tackle his grass cutting fairly early." The three leave in the elevator to the first floor.
7:10AM An author working on a book about the trial shares a moment with a few people. He says he has read the trial transcript twice and could not find where the government actually proved there was a Cash for Kids scheme. But he says his book shows a correlation.
7:25AM Mark Ciavarella walks down the hall from the Post Office entry of the Federal Building. Striding, head forward he is surrounded by his Attorneys and Federal Marshals.
7:45AM More people come off the elevator and form a line for the second metal detector set up on the fourth floor. In an orderly fashion they move to the right and then to the left to get in line. The Citizen’s Voice Spacial Projects Editor Dave Janoski and WILK Radio host Steve Corbett are the first in line. Behind them is a man with running shorts and a tee shirt. At the February trial he told me that Ciavarella wrong sentenced him to more time than he deserved on a drunk driving charge. He told me then he wanted to see him go to jail with his own two eyes. He talked to no one and waited patiently.
7:51AM The family of Mark Ciavarella get out of the elevator. All looked straight ahead and went through the metal detector. In another place and time, their wardrobe looked like they were going to a social event. Their demeanor said otherwise.
8:05AM A federal employee tells me I can remain seated until they open the Courtroom. Seeing my two canes and mangled legs I appreciate the gesture. More people come off the elevator.
8:22AM The federal employees begin the process of having people pass through the metal detector. I’m the first one in and am told there is a special area for the press.
8:24AM The Ciavarella family occupies the front row behind the defense table. All look straight ahead and wait.
8:25AM As I have seen him many times before during his trial, Mark Ciavarella paces. Head down, deep in thought, he makes a small path between the defense table and the area near his family. At one point he talks with his son Marco. Marco is dressed in a turquoise golf shirt and khakis.
8:31AM The room is now populated to capacity. The back row has Sandy Fonzo and all of her compatriots dressed in those tee shirts. I doubt if Ciavarella sees them.
8:34AM A Federal Marshall sits directly in front of a large screen TV near the jury box. His eyes scan the room and he takes special note of the activities in the Ciavarella row and Fonzo row. There is no need for concern but he is intent on making sure that remains the case.
8:37AM Federal employees from the Courthouse sit in the second row. Some female employees enter out of the Judge’s chambers and sit professionally and demurely. However, one of them, a woman chews on gum as if she is Rizzo from the movie “Grease”. Steve Corbett tells Dave Janoski that the media should be sitting in the jury box. Janoski said that would be ironic and fitting. Meanwhile the female federal employee continues to chew her gum oblivious to the disrespect she is showing the court.
8:39AM Prosecutor Gordon Zubrod enters the courtroom wearing a bow tie. Corbett tells someone that during the trial the prosecutor eschewed the neck wear in favor of traditional wear because a jury consultant recommended he not wear it.
8:46AM U.S. Attorney Peter Smith enters the courtroom. His shock of white hair can be seen as he makes his way toward a seat. He opens a folder and looks at it.
8:48AM Marco Ciavarella works the front row. He kneels in front of his relatives and smiles. He seems to be trying to break their spell. He moves from relative to relative stooped in a crouch engaging them in banter. For brief seconds he takes their mind off of the ticking minutes to judgement.
8:54AM Mark Ciavarella takes a sip out of his beverage at the defense table. He consults with Defense Attorneys Bill Ruizzo and Al Flora.
9:00AM Judge Kosik enters the courtroom. Robe not buttoned. His blue shirt and red tie are exposed. I’m thinking he’s aching to get at that lawn of his his.
9:01AM Kosik addresses the issue of the letters to the parents he wrote. The question was raised by the Defense. Kosik says those letters were written when Ciavarella was under his first plea agreement.
9:05AM Gordon Zubrod reads the statement asking for the sentencing.
9:10AM Al Flora raises issues and concerns about a presentencing report. Flora says that information from the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice should be jettisoned if it relates to any juvenile who was not sentenced to time in PA Child Care or Western PA Child Care, the two places mentioned Ciavarella's conviction.
9:19AM Gordon Zubrod says reports from the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice are relevant to sentencing, Zubrod said "Mr. Ciavarella's argument is that he was not selling kids retail. I agree with that. He was selling them wholesale." Good nominee for soundbite of the year I’d say.
9:25AM: Defense Attorney Bill Ruzzo states that he had defended murderer's who faced less time than his client. Judge Kosik said he understood the profound friendship Ruzzo had for Ciavarella and the intensity of his defense reflected his passion.

9:35AM Former Judge Mark Ciavarella opens his statement to the Judge apologizing to his family, the courts, the community, the Judiciary and even the juveniles. However he detours into a defense that he never sold kids for cash. He recounts that he plead to theft of services and mail fraud but was chagrined when he read that Zubrod called his actions “Cash for kids”. He defended his tenure in Juvenile Court saying he did the best he could with what was at his disposal. He called Robert Powell a liar and said that he would take responsibility for what he did wrong. He again said never accepted money in exchange for sending juveniles to detention facilities. "I ask the government to release my entire investigative file," he said, "let everyone judge if there is any believable evidence.
Ciavarella argued that he ahas been convicted in public for a crime he did not commit, and said prosecutors had attempted to file charges against his daughter in an effort to force him to plead guilty. He said he decided to fight because his daughter said if he didn't,, "She would never speak to me again."After thanking the court for their time, he sits down.
9:56AM United States Assistant District Attorney Gordon Zubrod cited Mark Ciavarella's defiant rejection of accepting money for sentencing juveniles as proof the ex judge still doesn't accept responsibility for his actions, and called for a life in prison. Zubrod says that the former Judge should spend the rest of his natural life in jail.
10:05AM Judge Kosik begins the sentencing prefacing his remarks by saying that this type of day and action was very difficult.
10:08AM After preliminary remarks, Kosik hands down a sentence of 336 months. People begin to scramble for calculators or do times tables on their legal pads. Most everyone in the room is surprised since Kosik is known to be a lenient Judge in some matters. Kosik explains about parole responsibilities at the end of the sentence but no one is listening. All anyone is thinking about is that number, 28 years. Ciavarella stares ahead. No emotion.
10:10AM Kosik exits the courtroom. After he leaves Sandy Fonzo lets out an understated “who hoo”. Mrs. Ciavarella asks an official if that was an appropriate response.
10:13AM U.S. Marshalls come in to clear the courtroom. A few members of the media object. They are politely told to leave. The Ciavarella family remains in place in the front row. There is very little reaction.
10:14AM An irate citizen is berating a Federal Marshall questioning why the media should have special seating and why other citizens were relegated to the overflow courtroom. She calmly explains that the people in Courtroom 1 got there early but that she would take his complaint.
10:15AM U.S. Marsahlls demand that the fourth floor be cleared. Media and attendees cram the elevators to go downstairs.
10:16AM Getting to the elevator a prominent attorney and friend of mine says that “Mark should have kept his mouth shut. He aggravated the circumstances by not shutting up”.
10:26AM Media trucks abound. WILK’s Sue Henry and Steve Corbett are live. WBRE and WYLN break into live reports.
10:45AM During a live report to WYLN TV 35 I see a Channel 16 reporter running toward the Post Office entry of the Federal Building. Others in the media follow him. The Ciavarella family is headed home.
10:48AM I report that I overheard an official saying Ciavarella would spend 30 days in Philadelphia then get his prison assignment from there. Others say he is in the Lackawanna County jail.
11:00AM I speak with two parents. Maureen Transue and Lee Baber. I bought Mrs. Lulac’s engagement ring from him. He tells me of his story with Ciavarella and the short shrift his child received. He wants to see him led away. I tell him he might be exiting in the back and he heads that way.
11:25AM Ann Gownley and Beth Mensinger do their stand ups with Mike Lula. I’m next and cross the street with the WYLN intern Kaitlin. Sue Henry approaches and tells me to stay away from the interns. I tell her I never voted for Clinton.
11:35AM I do my stand up and wait for a ride to my car.
12noon: I settle into my car at the Clarion where I parked. It is a beautiful sunny day. I take my jacket off and drop the top and head down 81.
12:02PM It is reported that Mark Ciavarella is spirited away in a vehicle for immediate incarceration.
12:05PM If what the janitorial supervisor said was true at 705AM, Judge Edwin Kosik was doing his weekly Thursday summertime chore, cutting his grass. I thought that it will be a very, very long time before Mark Ciavarella gets to smell the grass of his own lawn again.


At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always Dave, good job on the blog and on TV. Nice time line and insight.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good reporting Dave. (edited)


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