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
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
Many banks and financial institutions are experimenting with containers in development environments, but when will they move into production? Containers are seen as the key to achieving the ultimate in information technology flexibility and agility. Containers work on both public and private clouds, and make it easy to build and deploy applications. The challenge for regulated industries is the cost and complexity of container security compliance. VM security compliance is already challenging, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
Enterprise networks are complex. Moreover, they were designed and deployed to meet a specific set of business requirements at a specific point in time. But, the adoption of cloud services, new business applications and intensifying security policies, among other factors, require IT organizations to continuously deploy configuration changes. Therefore, enterprises are looking for better ways to automate the management of their networks while still leveraging existing capabilities, optimizing perf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There’s a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it’s not. It’s about your business. It shouldn’t be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...