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
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., will focus on real world deployments of DDoS mitigation strategies in every layer of the network. He will give an overview of methods to prevent these attacks and best practices on how to provide protection in complex cloud platforms. He will also outline what we have found in our experience managing and running thousands of Linux and Unix managed service platforms and what specifically c...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, will shares the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity.
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, will discuss how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
Unless you don’t use the internet, don’t live in California, or haven’t been paying attention to the recent news… you should be aware that self-driving cars are on their way to becoming a reality. I have seen them – they are real. If you believe in the future reality of self-driving cars, then continue reading on. If you don’t believe in the future possibilities, then I am not sure what to do to convince you other than discuss the very real changes that will roll out with the consumer producti...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...