Ian Urbina writing in today's New York Times reports that "Things were different in the Luzerne County juvenile courtroom, and everyone knew it":
Proceedings on average took less than two minutes. Detention center workers were told in advance how many juveniles to expect at the end of each day — even before hearings to determine their innocence or guilt. Lawyers told families not to bother hiring them. They would not be allowed to speak anyway."
Urbina reports further:
In today's Times, Urbina asks, "How did two native sons, elected twice to the bench to protect children and serve justice, decide to do the opposite? And why did no one stop them?" Good questions that still need answers. The red flags in Pennsylvania were clearly visible, yet the judge's scam, which brought in over 2.6 million dollars and permitted a lifestyle far more lavish than their judicial salary alone would, continued for years.
“The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom,” said Marsha Levick, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, a child advocacy organization in Philadelphia, which began raising concerns about the court to state authorities in 1999. “The law was basically irrelevant.”
The case should raise red flags across the nation. What oversight, what accountability mechanisms exist in other communities to ensure that those who should be protecting us aren't just scamming us?