The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a sweeping order vacating nearly all of the records for juveniles who appeared before a former Luzerne County judge, reports The Legal Intelligencer. The decision criticizes former Judge Mark Ciavarella for running a courtroom with “a disturbing lack of fundamental process, inimical to any system of justice.” The Philadelphia Inquirer says 6,500 cases are involved.
Ciavarella and fellow former Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan have been charged by federal prosecutors with taking $2.8 million from one of the former co-owners and the builder of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care, two private, for-profit juvenile detention centers. Prosecutors allege those payments motivated the judge’s sentencing rulings. The Juvenile Law Center, which represented the juveniles, called the decision “an exceptional response to the most serious judicial scandal in the history of the United States.”