Welcome!

News Feed Item

Juvenile Law Center: "Kids For Cash" Judge Ciavarella Found Liable For Enactment Of Zero Tolerance Policies And Violation Of Kids' Constitutional Rights In Federal Civil Rights Action

JUVENILE LAW CENTER NOTES GROUND-BREAKING FINDING OF JUDICIAL LIABILITY

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Late yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against former Luzerne County Juvenile Court Judge Mark Ciavarella, the judge at the center of the now infamous 'kids for cash' scandal. Specifically, U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo found that Ciavarella violated the constitutional rights of the children who appeared before him to an impartial tribunal, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Ciavarella is currently serving a 28-year federal prison sentence following his criminal conviction in February 2011 on charges arising out of the scandal.

While American courts have a long history of protecting judges from suit by litigants who have appeared before them, Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled that Ciavarella is not immune from suit for his non-judicial conduct associated with the violation of the children's rights. "Judicial immunity does not shelter Ciavarella's 'non-judicial conduct,'" the court noted, explaining that judicial acts traditionally include "issuing orders, resolving cases and controversies, making rulings, and sentencing criminal defendants."

In the 'kids for cash' civil lawsuit, the court found that certain of Ciavarella's actions were not protected under the judicial immunity doctrine, including Ciavarella's participation in a conspiracy to enact zero tolerance policies. The court specifically found that while Ciavarella served as judge of the juvenile court, he enacted an administrative policy that dictated instances in which probation officers had to file charges against and detain juveniles in Luzerne County. In his order, Judge Caputo states, "Ciavarella's enactment and expansion of a zero tolerance policy dictating how probation officers were to handle violations of probation and other charging decisions fall outside the scope of judicial action…  Because Ciavarella's enactment and expansion of the zero tolerance policy were non-judicial acts, judicial immunity does not shield this conduct."

The court also found that Ciavarella's role in closing the former Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Center to make way for the construction and exclusive use of the private, for-profit Pennsylvania Child Care facility, as well as his monitoring of the financial success of that facility and concealment of the more than $2.7 million he and former Judge Michael Conahan received from the former co-owner and developer of the facility, were likewise non-judicial acts. Judge Caputo further states, "Ciavarella and Conahan kept track of the number of children sent to the facility and how PACC was doing financially. Ciavarella continued to monitor the profitability of PACC until 2008. Ciavarella's role in closing the River Street facility set the conspiracy in motion. Thus, the undisputed material facts establish that Ciavarella knew, or he should have known, that his role in the closure of the River Street facility and his concealment of his interest in its closure (and the resulting opening of the PACC facility while he served as judge of the juvenile court) would deprive Plaintiffs of an impartial tribunal."

The court's finding that Ciavarella's enactment of zero tolerance policies falls outside the scope of judicial immunity is especially significant. It follows by one day the announcement of new guidelines and recommendations by the United States Departments of Justice and Education to roll-back zero tolerance policies that have created a school to prison pipeline and mete out discipline disproportionately to students of color. The decision should put other judges on notice of their potential liability for participating in the enactment of policies that interfere with children's rights or undermine key principles of our justice system. 

"Of the 2500 children who appeared before Ciavarella between 2003-2008, the duration of this illegal conspiracy, a substantial number of them were referred by the schools in Luzerne County," noted Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel of Juvenile Law Center and co-counsel for plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "Luzerne County exposed the dark side of zero tolerance policies, resulting in the loss of key educational opportunities for too many children who still struggle today to get their lives back on track. With this decision and the new federal guidelines, we have new tools to return school discipline to the principal's office, rather than the courtroom."

Juvenile Law Center is the oldest national, non-profit, public interest law firm to advance and protect the rights and well-being of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Juvenile Law Center is also a resource for other legal advocacy groups across the nation.  For more information, please call Marie Yeager at 717-817-3333 or to read the full opinion visit www.jlc.org.

SOURCE Juvenile Law Center

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, will address this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of t...
Any startup has to have a clear go –to-market strategy from the beginning. Similarly, any data science project has to have a go to production strategy from its first days, so it could go beyond proof-of-concept. Machine learning and artificial intelligence in production would result in hundreds of training pipelines and machine learning models that are continuously revised by teams of data scientists and seamlessly connected with web applications for tenants and users.
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
Connecting to major cloud service providers is becoming central to doing business. But your cloud provider’s performance is only as good as your connectivity solution. Massive Networks will place you in the driver's seat by exposing how you can extend your LAN from any location to include any cloud platform through an advanced high-performance connection that is secure and dedicated to your business-critical data. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Paul Mako, CEO & CIO of Massive Networks, wil...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...
Cloud adoption is often driven by a desire to increase efficiency, boost agility and save money. All too often, however, the reality involves unpredictable cost spikes and lack of oversight due to resource limitations. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO and Founder of CloudHealth Technologies, tackled the question: “How do you build a fully optimized cloud?” He will examine: Why TCO is critical to achieving cloud success – and why attendees should be thinking holistically ab...
yperConvergence came to market with the objective of being simple, flexible and to help drive down operating expenses. It reduced the footprint by bundling the compute/storage/network into one box. This brought a new set of challenges as the HyperConverged vendors are very focused on their own proprietary building blocks. If you want to scale in a certain way, let’s say you identified a need for more storage and want to add a device that is not sold by the HyperConverged vendor, forget about it....
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, presented an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He then expounded on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and ...