Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Federal Judge in PA Says That The Two "Kids For Cash" Judges Can Be sued

"Kids For Cash" Judges Conahan and Ciavarella

Federal Judge Rules Ciavarella and Conahan Can be Sued for Non-Judicial, Administrative Actions

Judges Not Dismissed from Lawsuit

Philadelphia, PA (November 20, 2009)—U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo today granted in part and denied in part Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella’s requests for judicial immunity. The court declined to dismiss the two former Luzerne County judges from the federal civil lawsuit with respect to their conduct outside the courtroom as alleged in the complaint filed by the plaintiffs.

“This is an important victory for the plaintiffs. They will have the opportunity to pursue their allegations against the judges for their conduct outside the courtroom, including their acceptance of kickbacks and their conspiring with the developer and owner of the private for profit facilities,” says Marsha Levick, Deputy Director at Juvenile Law Center.

In the order, the court granted Ciavarella’s request for judicial immunity for his actions inside the courtroom. Although the judicial immunity doctrine is well entrenched in U.S. court history - thus barring civil lawsuits against judges for acts inside the courtroom - this will not shield Ciavarella from criminal proceedings against him and provides no protections for his actions outside the courtroom in the civil litigation.

Today’s order states, “That is not to say, however, that every act alleged of the two was judicial in nature. For example, Conahan’s signing of a ‘Placement Agreement’ would be an administrative, not a judicial act. Similarly, any acts in making budget requests to the Luzerne County commissioners would also be administrative or executive in nature. And the actions of Conahan and Ciavarella in coercing probation officers to change their recommendations is outside of the role of a judicial officer.”

The order continues, “The Motions to Dismiss by Ciavarella and Conahan will be granted as to their courtroom conduct. Specifically, Conahan’s motion will be granted as to his action granting injunctive relief preventing the release of the PACC audit. Ciavarella’s motion will be granted as to his juvenile delinquency determinations and the sentences he imposed. As to the remaining allegations against each, the doctrine of judicial immunity does not shield them from liability, because the other allegations relate to non-judicial acts. I will deny their Motions to Dismiss as to such non-judicial conduct.”

Juvenile Law Center is a national, non-profit, public interest law firm that advances and protects the rights and well-being of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. For more information contact Lourdes Rosado at (215) 625-0551.

See also my articles on these two judges on

The "Kids For Cash" Scandal: The Decisions of Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella in Hundreds of Juvenile Convictions are Overturned.

Pennsylvania's Judicial Conduct Board Tries To Salve The Reputations of The Board As Well As The Two "Kids For Cash" Judges

No comments:

Post a Comment