Maybe Al Gort knows more about this, but it sure seems strange

I wrote about corrupt Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan several months ago, on a post that drew our first InstaPundit link. Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has more:

State panel hears how corrupt judges affected youths¹

By Mario F. Cattabiani, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE – Three days after Christmas 2004, a 13-year-old boy appeared before Luzerne County Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. on a charge of simple assault. He was accused of throwing a piece of meat at his mother’s boyfriend.

The boy was all of 4 feet, 3 inches tall, and he weighed 82 pounds.

Ciavarella sent him to a juvenile detention center for 48 days.

“I really couldn’t believe that being accused of something like throwing a steak was all that was needed to be put away,” the thin, soft-spoken young man, now in his late teens, testified Thursday to the state panel examining the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County’s courts. “I was suddenly so lonely, I felt sick. No one was able to help me or stop this.”

Much more at the link.

Al Gort has been all over the Luzerne County corruption scandals; he specializes in political reporting from northeastern Pennsylvania, so this is his bailiwick. But it occurs to me that prosecutors, including those working in juvenile crime, know what individual judges are like; they know who’s tough and who’s not; defense attorneys, including public defenders, know who’s tough and who’s not. How, I wonder, did the 13-year-old boy mentioned in the first paragraph in the story ever wind up in front of Judge Ciavarella? How did juvenile justice authorities, who had to have known that Mr Ciavarella was the “hanging judge” type, decide to send a kid like that into the system in the first place?

Maybe Al Gort knows more, but it seems to me that a whole lot of people enable the “Juvie Brothers,” whether they were in on the scam or not.

¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Good Friday, 2 April 2010, p. B-1


  1. Not only does the judge in this case sound corrupt, it seems that the boy’s mother chose to allow her “boyfriend” to press charges against her 13-year-old son for the crime of throwing a steak at what must have been a peach of a gentleman. This sounds like a case of two jerk adults who wanted to get the kid out of the house for a while. Otherwise, this persecution…and I mean persecution, not prosecution…of a child would not have been carried as far as it was.

    Mothers have a responsibility for their children, first, foremost and always. The young man in this case was victimized by three people–the judge, the negligent mother and her vindictive boyfriend.

  2. Ah… the wonders of corporate jails… We make it lucrative to jail people, then are shocked, shocked, I tell you! when injustices become normal.

    For-profit justice is just as stupid and just as evil as for-profit health insurance.

    Soon, the conservatives will be telling us that preventing judges from jailing us for kickbacks is an encroachment on our freedoms, and unfair to the poor corporate prisons, who operate on razor thin margins while their CEOs jet around buying up all the mansions.

  3. Wow. I think the economy may be on the rebound. I have 580 covers for Easter and I can’t take another reservation, booked solid. We did over 300 tonight (by the time I left) and had a giant bar crowd. Seems people want to get out for the spring weather. We average $50 a head with food and drinks so this could be the best week since New Years.

  4. Uh-huh. This is teh restaurant you just sold so you could retire?

  5. It’s just odd Pho. usually Easter is not that big areound here. Thanksgiving, New Year, Valentine, Mother’s Day yes but not Easter. The weather may have something to do with it. It was in the high 70’s and beautiful out so there were a lot of folks about.

  6. Where do these woman find their boyfriends? In sewers with the rats? If that’s the case, the mother should be thrown in jail along with the attorneys. Maybe that young boy was lucky; sometimes the boyfriends kill the children.

  7. Sadly there a hundreds of more stories similar to this one. In one case Ciavarella asked a kid to count the number of pigeons on the window sill and when he answered 6 the judge said that’s how many months you’re going away.

  8. Mr Gort: OK, Judge Ciavarella was a bad dude, but at some point it has to be asked why the juvenile justice system was bringing kids before him in the first place. The prosecutors knew he was capricious and could be harsh, even if they didn’t know about the kickbacks, and knew that results like that could be expected. The defense attorneys had to know, including the public defenders. Judge Ciavarella was corrupt, but it looks to me as though the juvenile justice system was enabling him in his corruption.

  9. Unfortunately, there are many kids who need to go to kiddie jail. Some get the “shock treatment” and get “scared straight” as it were. But that is definitely not the case for the kid who threw a perfectly good piece of beef at a worthless human being (with minor unspoken caveats).

    Sadly there a hundreds of more stories similar to this one. In one case Ciavarella asked a kid to count the number of pigeons on the window sill and when he answered 6 the judge said that’s how many months you’re going away.

    Any person in a position of authority who uses that method to determine punishment deserves to receive the same treatment. “How many flowers do you see in that flower garden? That’s how many years you’ll be in solitary confinement.” But that would be vindictive. It would also be “cruel and unusual punishment.” Oh well.

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