The Pennsylvania judge who was specially appointed by the state Supreme Court in early 2009 to review juvenile cases that had been handled by two since-imprisoned former Luzerne County, Pa. judges, has officially concluded his duties, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts announced Thursday.
The AOPC announced that Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim has completed his service as court-appointed Special Master in charge of reviewing the thousands of juvenile court adjudications in Luzerne County under former juvenile court Judge Mark Ciavarella, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison last summer stemming from the so-called “Kids for Cash” judicial scandal in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The move means all juvenile functions will be returned to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.
In addition to reviewing the juvenile cases, Grim was charged with administering the statutorily created juvenile crime victim compensation fund, according to the AOPC.
“As a result of Judge Grim’s review, a total of 2,251 juveniles have had their records expunged and $65,000 in restitution has been provided to 110 victims of juvenile crime,” the AOPC’s announcement states. “Original reports claimed that upwards of 6,000 juveniles were adjudicated by former Judge Ciavarella but that number was based on speculation, although some of the 2,251 juveniles had multiple cases expunged.”
Ciavarella and former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Conahan were accused of conspiring to send the juveniles to privately operated detention facilities in exchange for compensation.
Dubbed “Kids for Cash,” the case was one of the largest judicial scandals in Pennsylvania history.
Ciavarella was convicted of racketeering and income tax evasion and sentenced to nearly three decades in prison in August.
Conahan, a former county senior judge, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in prison in September for his role in the scandal after he pleaded guilty to his crimes.
The scandal has also sparked civil litigation. In December, the developer of the privately run detention facilities, Robert K. Mericle, agreed to settle all outstanding claims arising from the case. The $17.75 million settlement figure was intended to resolve a handful of civil rights complaints filed in the aftermath of the scandal.
Thursday’s Supreme Court announcement praised Grim for his work in the years following the scandal.
“All Pennsylvanians owe Judge Grim a debt of gratitude for helping coordinate unprecedented cooperation among all three branches of state government in bringing about a fair resolution to a miscarriage of justice that affected so many juveniles, their families and the community at large,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in a statement. “I thank him – on behalf of the entire court – for his service, dedication and professionalism.”
The AOPC announcement quoted Grim as stating that the situation in Luzerne County under the two corrupt judges was “a judicial process [that] had run amok and in essence was governed by the wanton exercise of power, dominated by greed, and with little or no concern for the welfare of juveniles and with little or no adherence to the time-honored precepts of juvenile justice.”