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Judicial Issues in Pennsylvania… since Luzerne Co.

with 2 comments


 

I browsed, and thought it appropriate to my recent topics.  This is called a fly-by post.  Read at your own risk.

http://annecarolinedrake.com/2010/02/16/corruption-in-pa-courts-you-cant-make-this-stuff-up/

Good Golly Grief, here’s ONE judge of the 40% in Luzerne County, PA who have had to resign or stepped down, or been PUT OUT, some of them for fraud.  When you consider the cases they are ruling on…  This link is from Ms. Drake’s site, above….

Supreme Court suspends judge serving in Luzerne County

By Michael R. Sisak (Staff Writer msisak@citizensvoice.com)
Published: January 21, 2010

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WILKES-BARRE – A senior judge accused of attacking his wife at their Plymouth Township home Saturday night was suspended by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday, hours after the wife shared details of the alleged altercation in her petition for a Protection From Abuse order.

C. Joseph Rehkamp, the former president judge of Perry and Juniata counties, will not be permitted to handle any matters, including two capital homicide cases in Luzerne County, at least until his own case is resolved, state courts spokesman Art Heinz said.

Luzerne County President Judge Thomas F. Burke said he and his colleagues would implement a contingency plan Thursday for the reassignment of Rehkamp’s cases.

Rehkamp, 61, turned himself in Sunday on charges he assaulted his wife Valerie, 50, after they returned home from celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary Saturday night. Police said Rehkamp pushed his wife down, slammed her into a chair, placed both hands on her neck and choked her, leaving red marks on her neck.

Senior Judge Carson V. Brown issued a temporary protection from abuse order Wednesday, barring Rehkamp from contact with Valerie or her sons, ages 16 and 18. Brown said he would determine whether to extend or end the order at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 28 in Luzerne County Court.

In her petition, Valerie Rehkamp described her husband as an obnoxious drunk whose verbal assaults – shouting obscenities in a restaurant and harassing the bartender and waitress – devolved into a physical attack when they arrived home.

Rehkamp, who Valerie said was staying in Harrisburg with a daughter from his first marriage, could not be reached Wednesday. A voice mailbox connected to his telephone line was said to be full.

State court administrators originally assigned Rehkamp to Luzerne County in November as a stopgap to handle pending cases left by Michael T. Toole, the latest of the three former county judges snared in an ongoing federal corruption probe.

The corruption charges and a lingering misconduct dispute have left the court four shy of its normal complement of 10 judges.

Rehkamp had been scheduled to preside over the capital homicide trials of Donnell Buckner, 35, of Wilkes-Barre, who allegedly gunned down his estranged wife while her three children looked on, and Hugo Selenski, who is accused of strangling a pharmacist and his girlfriend and burying their bodies behind his Kingston Township home.

Quick commentary — I immediately (first read) noticed the age difference between judge and his wife.  Reading further, she’s a second wife.    The drunkenness and verbal assaults are inappropriate for those in judicial offices.  Do they store up bitterness in court and let loose at home (kick the dog, kick the wife), or is this just normal behavior, daytimes too?  What kind of personality does the role of JUDGE attract these days?  Will the system tolerate HONEST ones?  (I’m sure there are some, who are not as such getting the same coverage….).

And for some of the rest, per same site:

40% of the judges as well as the former presiding judge in Luzerne County, PA have left the bench amid corruption scandals:  

  • Judge Ann H. Lokuta was removed on December 9, 2008 by the state Supreme Court.
  • Judge Peter Paul Olszewski was kicked off the bench by the voters in November, 2009.
  • Judge Michael T. Toole resigned after pleading guilty on December 28, 2009 to federal corruption charges for concealing his free use of a beach house owned by an attorney who represented plaintffs in an underinsured motorist case as well as failing to report a $30,000 bribe from another attorney on his tax return.
  • Judge Mark A. Civarella, Jr. and former presiding Judge Michael T. Conahan plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks.  They will serve 87 months in prison.

The New York Times reported:    

Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for [two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care] to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled. . .estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003.  Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.    

I’m not sure if I remember the Luzerne case in detail, but it seems to me that one straw that broke that camel’s back was when a young woman, A-student, was strip searched by a school for supposedly having not one, but two Motrins.  The school was unrepentant, and she went to one of these wilderness schools.  And then started talking.. . . . . .  Makes you kind of wonder about the schools systems, too. ….Is this where we learn, along with ABOUT civil rights, that if you’re a minor, yours don’t count?

NEVERTHELESS, the nonprofit groups are SURE that it’s not financial corruption, but lack of “education” which is why those judges “just don’t understand” that domestic violence is a danger sign, and that mandated court-ordered visitation of a disgruntled father, whether young or middle-aged, after abuse, is just plain damn RISKY.  How much innate intelligence does it take to figure that one out?

How much money does it take to NOT figure it out? 

The groups reproducing on-line, and teaching teachers how to teach prosecutors, judges, and almost everyone else, including batterers, what kind of water to drink forgot the old proverb about the horse — you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

If in addition (see last post) the same water is paid for and considered mandatory legal education (MCLE), will it STILL be drunk by the attending officials?

Cobblers see shoes, and people with programs to proliferate on-line (maybe THEY need some “abstinence” education of a different sort) will see a lack of education. 

Here’s what seems to me to be a new one.  This comes from a StopAbuse link.  Right away, I know the word “violence” just got downgraded.

The title?

“Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter.”

Say, Whah????

OK class, here’s your question:

To Whom is this addressed?  WHO is going to “address fatherhood”?

You just got taught a standard.  Fathers (evidently) who batter still get to keep fathering, so professionals need to guide them into how to do it better.

Here’s what I’d recommend.  First of all, PRIORITIZE.  STOP — either the battering, or the fathering.  They are NOT compatible.  Firmly tell that ONE or the OTHER is going to stop — and make it clear, permanently — NOW.

No, we have to try to reconcile that “irreconciliable difference.”

Me, I wish someone had just told me about Mace or something long ago — might have been an effective intervention and stopped that hitting thing cold.  (Then again, it might not have.  )

LOOK — speak the language of the people you are addressing.  That’s called multicultural sensitivity, right?  Whether gender, race, rural/urban, or Native American (for the uninitiated, I just spoke some subgrant language)

Is this current enough? 

Report details history of “Crook County” corruption

  • By Alex Parker
  • February 18, 2010 @ 1:40 PM

A report issued today by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Better Government Association chronicles corruption in Cook County, calling the county “infested with conflicts of interest.”

 In addition to naming about 150 convicted county politicians and employees, it outlines a five-point plan for curing the county of corruption.

“Cook County has become Crook County,” said UIC professor Dick Simpson, one of the report’s authors, at a press conference today outside County Board President Todd Stroger’s office. “This pervasive pattern of corruption must be changed if county government is to provide honest, effective, efficient and transparent government that taxpayers can afford.”

The report, the third in an ongoing series published by UIC, includes a lengthy list of offenses, ranging from decades-long corruption in the assessor’s office to the offenses in the 1980s and 1990s in the sheriff’s office and more recent instances in the offices of the president and the clerk of court.

Simpson, flanked by Congressman Mike Quigley, a former county commissioner, and Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, said the county should take steps to eliminate corruption.

Recommendations include barring officials from collecting multiple pensions, auditing the county’s operations, and preventing elected officials from working as lobbyists A report issued today by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Better Government Association chronicles corruption in Cook County, calling the county “infested with conflicts of interest.”

 In addition to naming about 150 convicted county politicians and employees, it outlines a five-point plan for curing the county of corruption.

“Cook County has become Crook County,” said UIC professor Dick Simpson, one of the report’s authors, at a press conference today outside County Board President Todd Stroger’s office. “This pervasive pattern of corruption must be changed if county government is to provide honest, effective, efficient and transparent government that taxpayers can afford.”

The report, the third in an ongoing series published by UIC, includes a lengthy list of offenses, ranging from decades-long corruption in the assessor’s office to the offenses in the 1980s and 1990s in the sheriff’s office and more recent instances in the offices of the president and the clerk of court.

Simpson, flanked by Congressman Mike Quigley, a former county commissioner, and Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, said the county should take steps to eliminate corruption.

Recommendations include barring officials from collecting multiple pensions, auditing the county’s operations, and preventing elected officials from working as lobbyists

Did you read that word “AUDIT”?  . . . I did.

Some people know that fathers’ rights activisit Jeffrey Leving, Esq. hails (or, last I heard, works from) this area.  Then again, so does our current President.  Geography isn’t everything.  Then again, neither is gender, or race, or being (or not being) from a “female-headed household.”  Ah well….

Well, some of these judges (male and female) speak MONEY.  Sorry to put it bluntly, but too many do.  Batterers speak POWER and CONTROL (which also includes money).  No wonder it’s an empathy thing. ….

That’s all I have time for today.

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the shout out!

    Did you read the bottom of my post? I clerked in the “Crook” County custody courts. . .it was corrupt as hell in the 1980s, and it looks like it is still corrupt.

    Anne Caroline Drake

    February 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm

  2. […] crime report » archive » “ordinary” injustice “ordinary” injustice | one minute lawyer Judicial issues in pennsylvania… since luzerne co. « let … Billy elder – mainstreetnewsobits Court documents filed tuesday morning in the watauga county […]


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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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