Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Luzerne County And Probation Official Added As Defendents In One Juvenile Lawsuit

Luzerne County and another former probation department official had their names added as defendants in one of three lawsuits filed in connection with the juvenile rights violations in Luzerne County.

Terry Morgan-Besecker chronicles this latest saga in today's Times Leader.

Attorney Barry Dyller on Monday filed an amended complaint, alleging the county is partly liable because Ciavarella and Conahan were the highest office holders in the county, therefore their decisions constituted county “policy and custom.”

The suit also places part of the blame on the late Michael Loughney, a former chief probation officer, alleging that he and his predecessor, Sandra Brulo, bowed to pressure from the judges and failed to take action to prevent them from violating juveniles’ constitutional rights.

Adding Luzerne County may not work out as well as this attorney sees it. Both judges were employees of the state, not the county. But that is for a court to determine as these cases meander through the legal process.

But county solicitor Vito DeLuca said he believes Dyller is advancing a “novel theory” and the county will have a strong legal basis to seek dismissal from the complaint.

“We had absolutely no supervisory capacity in any shape or form over the judges. We had no right to discipline them and had no right or ability to change policies they instituted,” DeLuca said.

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