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Kids For Cash is not a juvenile justice issue

Published August 29. 2011 05:02PM

Dear Editor:

As a Luzerne County native, I have been an unwilling participant and active critic of the Luzerne County Judicial System for over 30 years. I believe with all of my being that this scandal is "NOT" a Juvenile Judicial System issue at all. I believe this is a Judicial "Oversight issue" that just happened to raise its ugly head in Juvenile Court.

Ex-Judge Michael Toole, who was swept up in the original FBI investigation of the "Kids for Cash" Judges was not arrested for Juvenile Court misconduct. He is now in Federal Prison on corruption charges that are totally unrelated. If the FBI had not come into Luzerne County and arrested Conahan, Ciavarella and Toole, I would venture to say that all three would presently be on the bench committing additional crimes. It is not the job of the FBI to police and control judges in this state. The FBI only comes into play when the State fails to police their own. And fail they did.

Not only did the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board (JCB) table a detailed complaint about Conahan's and Ciavarella's illegal Juvenile Court activities but according to published reports this same Board ignored almost 40 other complaints of these two future felons. The JCB went on to change their story to the FBI and the general public as to why they failed to act ... five times. Not one of their explanations was acceptable to anyone's standards, not even their own.

I believe the JCB has been used by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as a political tool of the Court. The Supreme Court's control of the JCB allows the "powers that be" to demand loyalty and support or face the wrath of the Board while keeping the Court at arm's length. I have spoken to a former member of the JCB who has been trying to expose the Board's corruption for decades as well as having my own firsthand knowledge of investigation fixing by the board. Additionally, there is example after example of citizens and Attorneys who dared to challenge the JCB as well as others that simply questioned irregular activities of the Supreme Court. In all cases, it turned out very badly for these critics.

I believe that in order for "Real Judicial Reform" to take place we need to investigate the JCB via a Federal grand jury. Anything less would be like a doctor treating a patient for a disease without knowing what disease the patient has. Reform should not take place simply to demonstrate change. The horrible acts that occurred in The Luzerne County Court System were NOT properly exposed or corrected by the oversight organization (JVB) that was directly and "SOLELY" responsible for policing judicial misconduct. If the Supreme Court was acting in the best interest of the public, it would be demanding such an investigation. Instead the Court will viciously attack those who even suggest one.

It appears the system did not fail but rather the system "permitted" at least some, if not most of this illegal activity by these judges to go unchallenged. Not only do we need to know why the JCB did not fulfill their required mandate as required by their own rules, but also how extensive their failures have been in the past as they have operated for over 30 years in total secrecy with no accountability to anyone but the people wh appointed them to their powerful positions. Any "Oversight Board or Commission" that operates in total secrecy is a breeding ground for corruption, especially in the State of Pennsylvania.

Larry Hohol,

Deland, FL

Luzerne County native

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