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United States: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orders Juvenile Cases Handled by Corrupt Judges Expunged

(Apr. 10, 2009) On March 26, 2009, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ordered expungements of juvenile cases handled by Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. Ciavarella and another judge pled guilty to corruption charges alleging that between 2000 and 2007 they received millions of dollars in kickbacks from a company that owned a detention facility, in exchange for sending juveniles, who were often unrepresented by counsel and otherwise deprived of constitutional rights, to the facility.

The Supreme Court's special master assigned to investigate the matter recommended expungement of juvenile records for those with cases that, if tried properly, would have resulted in consent decrees or minor punishments. The Supreme Court agreed. Reports estimate that over 1,000 cases could be affected. (In re J.V.R., No. 81 MM 2008 (Pa. Mar. 26, 2009), available at http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/81mm2008pco3.pdf; In re J.V.R., No. 81 MM 2008, First Interim Report and Recommendations of the Special Master (Mar. 12, 2009), available at http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/JudgeGrimFirstInterimReport
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