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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 12, 2010

STUPID JUDGE TRICKS

Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal - The allegations in the Luzerne County, Pa., judicial scandal are ugly enough: In exchange for kickbacks from private detention centers, former county judges Michael T. Conahan and and Mark A. Ciavarella sent hundreds of juveniles off to the centers, sometimes for rather lengthy stays. But we recently got wind of an allegation tucked into a civil complaint concerning Ciavarella that's really not for the faint of heart. According to this story, from the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice, Ciavarella sentenced one former juvenile defendant to six months at a detention facility based solely on the number of birds perched on the ledge outside his courtroom. . . The suit has accused Ciavarella, the juvenile court judge from 1999 to May 2008, of inexplicably ordering Raul Clark to look at the ledge outside the courtroom during sentencing. Clark, according to the suit, was told to tell Ciavarella the number of birds he saw, the attorneys said. Clark, 14 at the time of the November 2002 hearing, counted six; Ciavarella sentenced him to six months of detention - one for each bird, according to the lawsuit. Clark had appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom on two misdemeanor charges: violating a town curfew and possession of a small drug pipe.

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