Thousands of Pennsylvania youths who had to appear before a corrupt county judge are in danger of losing the ability to sue for damages and court fees, reports the New York Times. The potential loss stems from a decision by the state Supreme Court aimed at helping the youths move on with their lives by destroying all documents related to their convictions that it deemed faulty. Doing so would hamper the public's ability to investigate the corruption of the judge, Mark Ciaverella, and limit the youths' ability to sue him.
“This is about destroying evidence,” Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia said after appearing yesterday before federal judge A. Richard Caputo in Scranton, Pa., to ask that the records be preserved. “Without these documents,” she Levick said, “it would make it nearly impossible for these kids to get justice.” The Supreme Court has said that under Pennsylvania law, all copies of a youth's criminal record must be deleted for it to be expunged.