Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liberty & Justice for Sale

The worst sort of criminal employs the power of public trust to victimize

Corruption of the public trust is far more injurious to society than ordinary crimes of passion, violence, greed, or even lust. It involves a cold, calculated, deliberate, and premeditated state of mind to use the powers entrusted to them by the people as a means to systematically violate their fellow human beings.

There are few acts more despicable than a public officer taking bribes. In other words: putting fairness and justice up for sale. These are a special breed of crook because their opportunity to victimize others is exclusive and comes with a license. They are entrusted by a sworn oath with the power and solemn duty to do justice but they pervert both for personal gain.

No individuals are entrusted with more power over the lives and liberty of others than judges presiding over the people’s courts of law. Judges have a unique and exclusive opportunity to manufacture justice for sale. Some of them are willing to victimize even children, depriving them of their rights and liberty for the sake of lining their pockets with dollars.

Michael Conahan, and Mark Ciavarella, Jr., two former judges presiding over the Luzerne County Pennsylvania juvenile court system, were convicted recently of what prosecutors called a 'kids for cash' racketeering scheme that sent juvenile offenders to privately run detention facilities in return for kickbacks.

Together, they accepted $2.8 million in kickbacks from the owner and builder of two privately-run juvenile detention facilities in return for closing the county’s own juvenile detention center and a guarantee of sending children appearing in court before them to the new private detention center.

Ciavarella often sentenced young first-time offenders to detention and had a reputation for cutting constitutional corners in the process. Many of the kids who appeared in his courtroom, for example, were not represented by a lawyer, and were never advised of their right to counsel. Upwards of 60 percent of these unrepresented children were sentenced to time in a juvenile detention facility, i.e. imprisoned against their will.

All the while, both judges were receiving secret under-the-table payments from the owner of the private detention centers that profited from the large number of kids sent to them. These judges were literally using their judicial office for the purpose of selling young children down the river – depriving them of their liberty for filthy lucre.

Needless to say, in this: one of the worst judicial scandals in American history, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that all adjudications, an estimated 4,000 cases, involving children appearing before judge Ciavarella be vacated and their records expunged. Judge Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.17 million in restitution. Judge Conahan pleaded guilty last year and is awaiting sentencing.

That’s getting off easy. I don’t believe in the death penalty for many reasons, but if any criminal deserves it, these guys surely do. When an ordinary criminal commits a single kidnapping, the death penalty might be authorized by law. These criminal judges committed judicial kidnappings thousands of times over.

They deserve a life sentence, in my opinion as a lawyer and officer of the court, for every abusive detention they ordered, to be served consecutively. They should never enjoy another day of freedom.

No punishment is too severe for a judge of a court of law, entrusted by the public with dispensing justice, putting liberty and justice up for sale.

Original report here

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