Monday, February 23, 2009


Judges, those members of the legal community who are supposed to be...or should be...above reproach. It seems that the jurisprudence of some leave much to be desired. It's not just judges, though. There are members of law enforcement who appear to feel that they are above the law, or are the law, therefore can do as they please.

Although there is much that can be discussed about crooked cops in the US, it is judges who take center stage at this time. There were two articles I found this morning, one from CNN and the other through Yahoo News, both of which got me burnin'.

First, from Yahoo News, I came across an article about a Federal District Judge(a Bush I appointment) whom had been accused of sexual assault.

Federal judge pleads guilty before start of trial
HOUSTON – A federal judge accused of groping two female court employees as he tried to force himself on the women and have them perform sex acts pleaded guilty on Monday to obstruction of justice in exchange for sex-related charges being dropped.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, the first federal judge charged with a sex crime, retired Monday, avoiding possible impeachment by Congress.

Kent's guilty plea came as jury selection in his trial was to begin.

The jurist, who once shouted in court that he would bring "hordes of witnesses" in his defense, spoke barely above a whisper as he pleaded guilty to lying to a judicial committee investigating the sex-related charges.

CNN had this 'lovely' little acticle about two former Luzerne County, PA, judges who were sending teens to youth detention centers, boarding schools, and boot camps for what prosecutors say were kickbacks to the tune of $2.6 million.

Feds: Corrupt judges jailed teens for cash

(CNN) -- At a friend's sleepover more than a year ago, 14-year-old Phillip Swartley pocketed change from unlocked vehicles in the neighborhood to buy chips and soft drinks. The cops caught him.

There was no need for an attorney, said Phillip's mother, Amy Swartley, who thought at most, the judge would slap her son with a fine or community service.

But she was shocked to find her eighth-grader handcuffed and shackled in the courtroom and sentenced to a youth detention center. Then, he was shipped to a boarding school for troubled teens for nine months.

"Yes, my son made a mistake, but I didn't think he was going to be taken away from me," said Swartley, a 41-year-old single mother raising two boys in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

As scandals from Wall Street to Washington roil the public trust, the justice system in Luzerne County, in the heart of Pennsylvania's struggling coal country, has also fallen prey to corruption. The county has been rocked by a kickback scandal involving two elected judges who essentially jailed kids for cash. Many of the children had appeared before judges without a lawyer.

The nonprofit Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia said Phillip is one of at least 5,000 children over the past five years who appeared before former Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella.

Ciavarella pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal criminal charges of fraud and other tax charges, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Former Luzerne County Senior Judge Michael Conahan also pleaded guilty to the same charges. The two secretly received more than $2.6 million, prosecutors said.

Ciavarella, 58, along with Conahan, 56, corruptly and fraudulently "created the potential for an increased number of juvenile offenders to be sent to juvenile detention facilities," federal court documents alleged. Children would be placed in private detention centers, under contract with the court, to increase the head count. In exchange, the two judges would receive kickbacks.

The Juvenile Law Center said it plans to file a class-action lawsuit this week representing what they say are victims of corruption. Juvenile Law Center attorneys cite a few examples of harsh penalties Judge Ciavarella meted out for relatively petty offenses:

  • Ciavarvella sent 15-year-old Hillary Transue to a wilderness camp for mocking an assistant principal on a MySpace page.
  • He whisked 13-year-old Shane Bly, who was accused of trespassing in a vacant building, from his parents and confined him in a boot camp for two weekends.
  • He sentenced Kurt Kruger, 17, to detention and five months of boot camp for helping a friend steal DVDs from Wal-Mart.
  • Several other lawsuits on behalf of the juveniles who have appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom have emerged.

    Maybe we all oughta think twice about who it is that is being put behind that bench. I think this shows that more scrutiny is needed in the selection of not only Federal judges, but district and circuit judges, too.

    Thanks to CNN and Yahoo News as well as the Associated Press for the articles referenced herein.


    HermitJim said...

    And another fine example for our kids to follow, huh?

    Grandpa Eddie said...

    No kiddin'! We're supposed to tell our kids that they can 'trust' judges...HAH!