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MIAdragon
03-26-2009, 11:31 PM
Hundreds of Pa. juvenile convictions reversed
Judge accused of taking millions of dollars in payoffs to send kids away

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29900818/page/2/

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - When Matt Klubeck landed in juvenile court four years ago for throwing a piece of steak at his mother's boyfriend during an argument, he figured the judge would dismiss the simple assault charge that had been lodged against him.

Instead, Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella denied Klubeck his right to an attorney, presided over a hearing that lasted barely a minute or two, then forced the 13-year-old — only 4-foot-2 and 82 pounds at the time — to spend 48 terrifying days in a youth detention center.

Klubeck was among hundreds of juveniles Ciavarella sent to a private lockup run by PA Child Care LLC. In exchange, prosecutors say, Ciavarella took millions of dollars in kickbacks in one of the most egregious cases of judicial corruption ever seen.


On Thursday, Pennsylvania's highest court overturned hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, ruling the disgraced judge violated the constitutional rights of youth offenders who appeared in his courtroom without lawyers between 2003 and 2008.

A fresh start for Klubeck
For Klubeck, who sank into a scared, lonely depression as he did time with much larger boys who had committed far more serious crimes, the decision means vindication — and a fresh start.

"This is great. This is great," said an exultant Klubeck, now 17, given the news by a reporter. "I can't believe he tried to ruin kids' lives in exchange for money. I'm glad he got caught."

Federal prosecutors charged Ciavarella and another Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, with taking $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in privately owned lockups.

The judges pleaded guilty to fraud last month and face sentences of more than seven years in prison.

"Today's order is not intended to be a quick fix," Chief Justice Ronald Castille said in a statement. "It's going to take some time, but the Supreme Court is committed to righting whatever wrong was perpetrated on Luzerne's juveniles and their families."

The Supreme Court approved the recommendations of Berks County Senior Judge Arthur Grim, whom the justices appointed in February to review cases handled by Ciavarella.

Remedy for low-level offenders
He decided that expungement was the most appropriate remedy for low-level offenders who appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom without lawyers — a group he has said numbered "easily into the hundreds."

Under Pennsylvania law, a juvenile may not waive his right to an attorney unless the decision is made "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily." The judge must also formally question defendants to make sure they understand their rights, something Ciavarella routinely did not do.

In a report to the Supreme Court released Thursday, Grim said he has determined that "a very substantial number of juveniles who appeared without counsel before Judge Ciavarella ... did not knowingly and intelligently waive their right to counsel."

Grim next will review cases involving more serious juvenile offenses.


Click for related content
Families sue Pa. judges in kickback scheme

Prosecutors have described a scheme in which Conahan, Luzerne County's former president judge, shut down the county-owned juvenile detention center in 2002 and signed an agreement with PA Child Care LLC to send youth offenders to its new facility outside Wilkes-Barre.

Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, sent youths to the detention center and to a sister facility in western Pennsylvania while he was taking payments, prosecutors said.

PA Child Care LLC has not been charged. Former co-owner Robert Powell, who made the payments, has said he was the victim of extortion.

Even before the scandal became public in late January, youth advocates had complained for years that Ciavarella was a harsh jurist who deprived youths of their constitutional rights.


Sent to detention for minor offenses
Youths were routinely brought before Ciavarella without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent to detention for offenses as minor as stealing change from cars and writing prank notes.

In his report, Grim said "there was routine deprivation of children's constitutional rights to appear before an impartial tribunal and to have an opportunity to be heard."

The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center asked the Supreme Court to intervene in Luzerne County last year, citing statistics that Ciavarella was opting for detention in far high numbers than would be expected. The justices rejected the request without comment in early January, then changed their mind after Conahan and Ciavarella were charged.

Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the law center, said that the unprecedented scope of the scandal will take time to fully address, but that Thursday's order was a start.

She said there are many inside the Luzerne County court system, including attorneys and probation officials, who had to know the rights of juvenile defendants were being routinely violated.

"Their failure to either individually or collectively speak out against what was going on in Judge Ciavarella's courtroom, I think, let all of these kids down," Levick said.

Not told of right to have attorney
Hillary Transue, 17, who appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom in 2007 and spent a month in a wilderness camp for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal, was elated that her record would be expunged.

She did not have an attorney when she went before Ciavarella, nor was she told of her right to one.

"I feel incredible, not even just for myself, but for everyone who is involved in this whole thing, all of the kids who are going to have clean records now," Transue said.

The judges and others tied to the scandal face at least three lawsuits, including one filed by the Law Center.

A defendant in two of the lawsuits, former Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Sandra Brulo, illegally tampered with juvenile court records last month in an attempt to evade liability. She pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of obstruction of justice.

Pants
03-26-2009, 11:37 PM
Up to 7 years in prison? That's the most fucked thing I have ever heard. They need to rot in prison for the rest of their worthless lives. JFC, you cannot fuck with the legal system like that, ESPECIALLY with kids, and get off in 7 years...

CoMoChief
03-27-2009, 03:08 PM
Holy shit. i for one, am speechless.

Frazod
03-27-2009, 03:12 PM
Abuse of authority of this magnitude should be punishable by death. Seriously. Think of damage heaped upon all these poor kids.

Motherfucker should be tossed in a woodchipper on the steps of his own courthouse.

keg in kc
03-27-2009, 03:14 PM
Wow.

gblowfish
03-27-2009, 03:46 PM
They should stone him to death with frozen steaks.

doomy3
03-27-2009, 03:49 PM
Unreal.

58kcfan89
03-27-2009, 03:57 PM
They should stone him to death with frozen steaks.

This.


Guy is a bad human being to say the least. :shake:

Radar Chief
03-27-2009, 04:14 PM
Up to 7 years in prison? That's the most ****ed thing I have ever heard. They need to rot in prison for the rest of their worthless lives. JFC, you cannot **** with the legal system like that, ESPECIALLY with kids, and get off in 7 years...

We’ve been following this for a while at another board and I have to agree, 7 years isn’t nearly enough for what they did to 1200 some kids.

Radar Chief
03-27-2009, 04:21 PM
We’ve been following this for a while at another board and I have to agree, 7 years isn’t nearly enough for what they did to 1200 some kids.

If you’re wondering where I got the 1200 number from, here it is.
Thanks to findthedr for keeping us updated on this.

Pa. court to overturn up to 1,200 juvenile convictions

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said today that it will overturn the convictions of up to 1,200 juveniles in the wake of a corruption scandal that is sending two country judges to jail for more than seven years.
Last month, veteran Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan pleaded guilty to taking $2.6 million in kickbacks to send juveniles to privately run detention centers.
The state's high court will throw out and expunge the case records of first-time offenders convicted of minor crimes by Ciavarella and Conahan.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/03/pa-court-may-ov.html

Pants
03-27-2009, 04:22 PM
We’ve been following this for a while at another board and I have to agree, 7 years isn’t nearly enough for what they did to 1200 some kids.

This article blew my mind. I would so love to believe in the system, but shit like this just ruins everything. Forever.

How does a man sleep at night after knowingly sending a child to prison unjustly?

jAZ
03-27-2009, 04:25 PM
Privatized prisons FTW!

mikey23545
03-27-2009, 04:31 PM
Privatized prisons FTW!

Thank God there's no corruption in state-run institutions!

Why don't you just move to some country with a tyrannical all-controlling central government and be done with it?

Amnorix
03-27-2009, 04:52 PM
Abuse of authority of this magnitude should be punishable by death. Seriously. Think of damage heaped upon all these poor kids.

Motherfucker should be tossed in a woodchipper on the steps of his own courthouse.

I agree. Short of rape or murder, it's hard to imagine a more heinous crime, or one more damaging to our legal system and our society in general.

Pioli Zombie
03-27-2009, 04:56 PM
Bastard should be forced to be one of Badgirls patients.
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jidar
03-27-2009, 05:07 PM
Thank God there's no corruption in state-run institutions!

Why don't you just move to some country with a tyrannical all-controlling central government and be done with it?

If corporations make a profit based on incarceration, then the corporation will do everything it can to increase incarceration, some things will be legal and some not. How is this not obvious?

Now you can have corruption in other things obviously, but no entity is more motivated, insidious, and ultimately successful than a corporation trying to make a profit. It is for this reason that you do not privatize anything like this.

Iowanian
03-27-2009, 05:12 PM
They should stone him to death with frozen steaks.


If they put him in gen-pop, and they find out what he's doing his time for...I'm guessing he'll be beaten with PLENTLY of cuts of meat.

Pioli Zombie
03-27-2009, 05:15 PM
Make him watch every Whoopie Goldberg movie ever made consecutively
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Gonzo
03-27-2009, 05:51 PM
Make him watch every Whoopie Goldberg movie ever made consecutively
Posted via Mobile Device

That's a little much, don't you think?
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