An attorney for kids-for-cash judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. told a three-judge panel from U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals today that the former Luzerne County judge deserves a new trial because his trial judge expressed “complete sympathy” with people outraged by the case.
Federal prosecutors say Ciavarella sent youth defendants to for-profit detention centers while taking $2.8 million in bribes from the centers’ builder and co-owner. Ciavarella, who is serving a 28-year sentence at a medium-security prison in Illinois, did not attend the court session in Philadelphia.
In oral arguments today, defense lawyers asked the federal panel to grant Ciavarella a new trial or sentencing hearing. They say U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik’s responses to public letters and his trial rulings show his bias against Ciavarella. They also complain the Luzerne County scandal was labeled “kids for cash.”
But prosecutors say Kosik sentenced the disgraced judge below federal guidelines, which could have produced a sentence of life in prison.
Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell, who served on the panel, says it’s tricky to judge a judge who was also judging a judge. Source: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/ciavarella-trial-judge-in-bribery-case-biase…
In other judicial bribery related news, a new wrinkle was recently added as California Supreme Court Associate Justice Ming W. Chin’s tenure has been shaken by revelations of alleged bribery by Edison International (“EIX”), Southern California Edison (“SCE”), and the law firm which represents them — Munger Tolles & Olson (“MTO”).
Fred Rowley of Munger Tolles & Olson who allegedly served as the middleman and conduit of bribes in his capacity as director of CAUSE. Once caught, Rowley conspired with Justice Chin, MTO, SCE, and others to defraud and mislead the California Commission on Judicial Performance. According to MTO, Rowley is a member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He also serves on the boards of directors of CAUSE, a non-profit that promotes Asian-Americans in politics. (image: courtesy of MTO)
A source familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintain that “overwhelming and undisputed” evidence shows that for a period of several years, both SCE and MTO poured large amounts of money into a questionable non-profit entity for which Justice Chin served as an official adviser, albeit secretly so.
The non-profit at issue is Pasadena-based Center for Asian-American United for Self Empowerment (“CAUSE”), which allegedly spends the money it collects for the purpose of voter-registration of API, as well as to lobby for furthering the appointments of APIs to various governmental positions.
While Justice Chin’s clandestine involvement with CAUSE began in approximately 2004, the source maintain the inquiry is focused on the years prior to the recent election by which Justice Chin was up for re-election, and during the time period one alleged wrongdoer – API Fred Rowley of MTO – served as the middleman and conduit of bribes in his capacity as director of CAUSE.
This, according to the source, creates not only the appearance of improprieties but actual misconduct as bestowing anything of value on a judicial officer by SEC and MTO to sponsor an entity which will register as many as APIs as possible who would, in turn, vote for the retention of Chin in the upcoming election, is prohibited.
As mentioned earlier, Justice Chin abruptly quit CAUSE in the midst of an inquiry by the California Commission on Judicial Performance subsequent to a complaint which alleged that Chin’s long-standing involvement with the entity — which caters exclusively to APIs — is prohibitive due to CAUSE’s invidious discrimination against those who are non-API. At that time, those were the only allegations lodged, and no mention was made of alleged improprieties by EIX, SCE, or MTO.
Following his abrupt departure, it is alleged that Justice Chin conspired with Fred Rowley, MTO, SCE, and others to defraud and mislead the California Commission on Judicial Performance as well as the public by creating the false impression that he was not an official adviser by causing the retroactive removal of his name from CAUSE’s web-site.