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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kids for Cash Judicial Corruption, JLC Update - Conspiracy of Silence Continues in Pennsylvania

Update, Pa Kids for Cash Scandal: 2 Years After Judges Arrested by Feds in $3 Million Scheme, still no reform to protect the children from further abuses of corruption. Juvenile Law Center Series on Reform in the Wake of Luzerne County Kids for Cash Scandal. On Jan 25th, 2009, two Luzerne County, Pennsylvania judges - including Mark Ciavarella, the county's juvenile court judge - were indicted on federal charges of accepting $2.9 million in kickbacks in exchange for using the juvenile court process to send thousands of youth to private, for-profit juvenile detention centers, often for very minor violations.
Over half of the children who appeared before Ciavarella did not have an attorney; 50-60% of these unrepresented children were placed outside their homes.
JLC since obtained justice for the thousands of youth involved in the scandal by successfully petitioning the PA Supreme Court to vacate and clear their records. But what changes have been made in the juvenile justice system in the past 2 years to prevent these injustices from occurring and to ensure that a scandal like this never happens again? Not many.
In JLC's "Reform in the Wake of Luzerne" series, the structural issues in the juvenile justice system that allowed this scandal to occur and the reforms - like guaranteeing access to counsel - that still need to be put in place to protect youth and to prevent such scandals from happening again are examined.
Juvenile Law Center -

Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice Final Report May 2010

Record of Commission's Hearings

New Study Shows Lack of Effective Legal Representation Harms Children; More work is needed for child legal advocates to be in compliance with state law. Nov 2010,

Judicial Conduct Board Complaints. Aug 2010. The ineffectiveness of the state Judicial Conduct Board, an arm of the Supreme Court that handles complaints against judges, is one of the lingering issues from the juvenile court scandal. The state noncriminal investigation into the court system, following the federal criminal indictments of former Judges Conahan + Ciavarella, revealed that the JCB received 40 complaints against the two former judges - a number far higher than the statewide average for common pleas judges. The board did not take disciplinary action as a result of any of those complaints. 9895

In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967). Landmark Supreme Court decision which established that under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, juveniles accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be afforded many of the same due process rights as adults such as the right to timely notification of charges, the right to confront witnesses, the right against self-incrimination, + the right to counsel.

Included on this Video -
PT 1: The Makings of a Scandal focuses on the back story of the scandal and features a teenage victim who spoke up and brought the scandal to light; and interviews with Hillary Transue, a former Luzerne County youth and victim of the scandal; Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief legal counsel of Juvenile Law Center; and Lourdes Rosado, associate director of JLC.
PT 2: The Need for Reform, released on the 2nd anniversary of the federal indictments of the two judges, JLC examines juvenile justice reform recommendations that were an outgrowth of the scandal, along with the status of those efforts 2 yrs later. JLC speaks w the Hon. John M. Cleland, chair of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, about the recommendations the Commission issued last May, as well as with staff attorney Riya Saha Shah about JLC's ongoing role in reform efforts and the impact of this case on juvenile justice systems nationwide.

Feb 13, 2011. In the Luzerne scandal trial, a lawyer and his staffer told about cramming $100s and $50s into a box and cursing.
When Jill Moran went to work for Robert Powell's law firm, she never thought her career as an attorney would come down to this dismaying moment: watching in shock as Powell, cursing and muttering, stuffed wads of cash into a FedEx box that he wanted her to hand-deliver to the president judge of Luzerne County.
"These greedy [expletives] won't let me go," Powell said, his hands full of $100 and $50 bills. "Take this to them, and hopefully it will be over."

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