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Ooh, Now I'm Mad

So on Saturday I'm sitting at work reading the USA Today and I came across this little snippet piece. Which tells of the story of two Pennsylvania juvenile court judges found guilty of taking payoffs (to the amount of $2.6 million) to send the children who came before them to some juvenile detention centers over other ones.

It goes on to say the the PA Supreme Court is going to have to overturn hundreds of cases
(1200 ish to be more precise) in which the juveniles were not told of their right to have a lawyer present during trial.

The Supreme Court ordered the review after the law center filed a petition alleging that Ciavarella routinely violated the rights of juveniles by allowing them to appear before him without counsel. Ciavarella failed to inform defendants of their right to an attorney.

So anyone want to guess how much time these two got in jail?

87 months (or 7.25 years).

That's it.

There you go, thank you, our Judicial System at work.

These men ruined, possibly, the lives of more than a thousand children! And they get a slap on the wrist.

They are going to cost the taxpayers how much money to review all these cases? And they get 7 years.

They made a mockery of our Constitution and the very rights they are sworn to uphold and they get a firm, "Bad, Judge!"

In many cases the juveniles hardly knew they were admitting to crimes, only realizing the gravity of the situation as they were being shackled and taken away to detention centers.
Well, I'm sorry that's not good enough for me. This is why I think whatever random formula they use to sentence prisoners needs a major overhaul. These men should not have been let off so easily. Our children should be worth more.

Madoff got 150 years in jail (or something there about's) and yet his crimes were perpetrated against adults. Is money worth more than children in our society!?

I could really go on and on about this one, but my train of thought keeps getting derailed by the amount of infuriating emotion I feel. So I'm going to end by saying that I think these men deserved at the very, very least double what they got.


Anonymous said…
I'm surprised the owner of the detention center has not been charged. I don't think he should get it easy either. Even if the judge did "shake him down", where's his personal integrity? A shake down is no excuse.
They don't even mention the owner of the other detention center. I wonder if he just got away scot free.
Sounds like a very corrupt county. What worries me is that there are so many stories of corruption coming out on the local levels. I deduce 2 things from that.
1. We Americans need to pay as much or more attention to what's happening in our towns and counties as we do to national elections.
2. This could actually be a good thing to see because corrupt people are being stopped.

Now on to a different subject.
Have you seen "Mrs Miniver"? It's a movie from 1942. It has Greer Garson in it. We got it from the library on Sat. and I like it. It's not something i would watch often. The end is bittersweet. Probably more bitter than sweet. But the woman is the kind of person i think that most of us would like to be.

And other good news, Ben just got a call from job service saying that the corporate office just called inquiring about the benefits being offered through them for the guys that have been laid off from the mine. They pretended no knowledge of him but he is the only reason that they know about the program. That's a huge step closer. Yay!!!
Claire Wessel said…
I think judges have a special place in our society. They are where people turn for justice. When the courts are corrupt, society fails. Clearly they were not charged with the appropriate crimes or they would have racked up enough years to top Madoff. In my opinion, they should have been charged with treason. I think their actions undermine our country just as much as someone selling secrets to a foreign government.
Cari Hislop said…
Esperity...Madoff has been sentanced to more years than most that just? Yes he deserves to rot, but murderers shouldn't ever get out either. Over here it's a sick joke...kill someone and if you serve more than 10 years you're probably really unlucky! They somehow equate life with 10 years...

I digress...these so called judges ought to be put in public stocks with a great huge sign detailing what they've done...and people should be able to spit on them and tell them what they think of them...hummiliate them rain and shine for a few months...that would be worse than some comfey jailhouse for judges for two years!!!!!! It might fall under cruel and unusual punishment...not in my books!!!! That was evil!!!!
cannwin said…
Yes, Cari that is partly what I'm saying, Madoff's sentence was so excessive that it borders on mocking the victims of violent crimes. And for what? Money? Our system is so broken it's painful sometimes to watch.

I don't think my Ralexwin would agree but that's how I feel.
Anonymous said…
I agree with your husband. (I know that will surprise you.) This is example of democracy in action. People are broken, not the system. People are the ones that need to change. And what is your fix for this? To make automatic sentences... like the one for being caught with drugs. Last time i checked, you disagreed with that. When people don't follow a moral code it comes down to legislation and i think we've seen adequate proof that you can't legislate morals. There will always be people that are treated unjustly that way. People need to stop being apathetic and start paying attention and being involved in politics and requiring honesty, like the lawyer that brought these charges against the two judges. So that's what I think.
Anonymous said…
Ok, that didn't sound very nice. I do agree the sentence was a grave injustice. What i don't understand is this. I assume that most of these kids have at least one parent or grandparent that cares for them. These court rooms did not just have the judge and the kid in the room. There are other people that knew what was going on but they allowed it go on for 4 years before someone tried to do something about it.
The greatness of our constitution is that it allows people to do bad things as well as the good things. It allows people to change and reach for the stars.
I know that you agree with that. I just don't agree with your statement that the system is broken. I feel strongly that "we, the people" are the system. The judge in this case grossly misjudged the sentence. Parents of the kids, the kids themselves, people who are outraged about it can do something about that judge's mistake. And hopefully none of them will stand by and let something like that happen again.
cannwin said…
I don't agree with mandatory sentencing but I think as a whole the system needs to be reevaluated (the sentencing aspects). How do I propose we go about doing that? Take out a piece of paper, get a group together and start a chart that says, the average sentencing for a rapist is this____. The average sentencing for a drug dealer is this___. How do they compare? Is this justice? That's where you start, with open dialogue.

And as for parents being in the court room with their children. Well,

1) It is the juvenile system, I'm going to take a guess and assume that these kids aren't coming from the most stable homes. Maybe their parents aren't there.

2) You're talking about people who see the Judge as an authority figure. There's a term for this, a legal term that I heard Ralexwin and another student talking about, that defines the relationship between authority figures and their behavior towards the average citizen. They have great power, and the law recognizes that that needs to be taken into consideration. If a cop walked up to you and said, "I need to look into your car, ma'am." How many people are going to say, "Why?"

Fewer than you might think, because they see him as a figure of authority and assume that he is doing good. Same with a judge. They are going to assume that he is following the law and if no lawyers are present in the hearing then who is to tell them that he isn't being just?

When you are held to a higher standard, the consequences for your actions should be more severe.
Anonymous said…
Until you start agreeing with me we won't be able to agree on anything political.
Anonymous said…
I was thinking more about this and i think that in part we are saying the same thing in a different way. You say we need to revamp sentencing by open dialogue. I say those parameters are already in place for murder, rape, etc... and if they need revamped it has to be required by the voice of the people. They need to stand up and start the open dialogue and not sit down before the fight is won.

As to your argument 1, i misworded what i meant. I didn't mean that the parent would be in the courtroom. What i meant was that if anyone who cares for that child sees them in a situation like that wouldn't at least some of them try to do something about it. And the fact that their families are disfunctional is not a good argument in my mind. Many of those families know their legal rights better than anyone. The right to an attorney is so basic. If they watch any tv at all they would know that right.
I asked my mom one time when i was young (at least pre-teen) what would happen to you if you broke the law without knowing it. Would you still get arrested? She said yes, ignorance in no excuse, it's your duty as a citizen to know the law. I realize now that our judicial system is more lenient than that but i think that what my mom said is true. As citizen's of this country you have a duties. I guess the point of my paragraph here is that people NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE enough to know their rights and protect them and i agree that these kids must not have. I just think that it's a pretty sad commentary if there honestly are that many people that didn't know the rights these kids had and therefore allowed them to be violated so horribly.
The last point i wanted to make on the parent/person who cares issue is that we are talking about, was it 1200? cases that are immediately being thrown out and 2500 being investigated in total. Even if you take half of those people, you would have 600 people petitioning, making statements, hiring lawyers, etc... their voices could not have been ignored.

Next point: authority figure.
I know some people can be like that. They won't stand up to authority. Again i just point to the number of people involved. Not all of them are intimidated. As for a lawyer not standing up to the judge because of his authority, then i just say that the lawyer has no integrity. When a judge clearly, blatently disregards the law, he has no real authority. David and Goliath.
And i need to add this even though i see your point, I would ask the policeman why and i may even go so far as to ask him if he has a warrant.

About judge and the kid not being the only ones in the courtroom. This is also something that i didn't state very well. I know the kids didn't have lawyers. I was referring to the clerk of court, (in the article they mentioned that she also was not on the up and up)the baliff, the stenographer, etc... Even if the courtroom isn't crowded there are still some people in the room that know the rights of the child and over the course of 5 years with 2 judges i'm willing to bet on that number being higher than 10. They could've been very credible people to make the complaints too. (Except of course for the clerk of court.)

I absolutely agree with your last statement. They should not have just had jail time, they should have hard labor too.

Now, from the first comment i made for this post, about Mrs. Miniver. I was thinking that it is probably not something that you would want to watch. It's set in England when war with Germany is announced and her son is called to the air force and her husband helps out with the home guard.
cannwin said…
Ivy you are funny. I will look up Mrs. Miniver and see what I think.

As for your statement I see a few miscommunications going on here.
1- in no way am I saying disfunction is an argument, I'm saying that they probably didn't have a lot of support going into this thing and/or adult's around to help them along.

2-This was not the only case in Laverne county about these judges, the first one had been brought up under for the same reasons and from what I gather was dropped for no apparent reason. There were petitions going on, but nothing came from them at first.

3-When I speak of authority figures I am meaning specifically the average citizen with no intention of directing that comment towards lawyers. Lawyers are entirely different and it is easy to me to see how some average person could think, 'well maybe I'm wrong about the right to an attorney, maybe there are rules about that sort of thing' it happens, especially when your staring at him in a court room, it's an intimidating setting.

Where is my husband? I'm going to make him post a comment on here and see what he has to say.
Anonymous said…
" affects as many as 1,200 juveniles, he said. Their cases will be reviewed individually to determine if they meet the court's conditions."

I wonder what the court conditions are. If they were represented without counsel present as the article indicates then a new trial would have to be ordered as that is violation of the 6th amendment right to counsel."

"Ciavarella and another former Luzerne County judge, Michael T. Conahan, have pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking $2.6 million in secret payments from the former owner of two juvenile detention centers. The judges admitted that they helped the centers secure a county contract worth millions of dollars. Ciavarella routinely sentenced children to them."
Both men have agreed to spend 87 months in prison. They are free on bond while a federal judge considers the plea deal."

Well this is a plea bargain 87 months for a guilty plea doesn't seem quite right to me. But then the federal judge reviewing it will probably come to the same conclusion so I don't think this will fly. As mentioned earlier as an officer of the court the Judge has abused his position of trust within the community and cannot be shown any leniency. In my opinion this breach of his oath of office is on par with teason. If the public cannot trust its court system to act with the highest standards then they will cease to use the court system and seek remedy else where. The nephites began there fall when the lower judges became corrupt.

I don't know if I would say that the children were harmed by anything the judges did. I doubt he was sending kids off to detention just to make some money and they were probably deserving of the sentence he gave them but his knowingly, intelligent, and willing, breach of his oath cannot be excused. His use of his office to trample on the very thing he is supposed to protect should send him to prison for life. Like I said it amounts to treason.

Well I hope that is enough comment cannwin.

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