The Legal Intelligencer by Leo Strupczewski - August 21, 2009
Two disgraced former Luzerne County judges have asked that a federal judge reconsider his decision to reject their plea agreements and assign a sentence he feels is more appropriate. Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. made a joint filing Thursday, petitioning U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik to reinstate their agreed-upon sentence of 87 months in prison because neither could be found at fault for their post-plea hearing actions. Neither attempted to "obstruct and impede justice" or contradict the government’s evidence in public comments, as Kosik had written, the judges argued. In fact, the filing continued, Conahan and Ciavarella only did what the law entitled them to do. The 12-page memorandum asserts that Conahan’s objections to the federal probation office’s presentence report were within the guidelines established by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and that Ciavarella was right to make public comments denying a "quid pro quo" in the scandal that has been called “kids for cash” in some media outlets. Both men have conditionally pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2.6 million from the owner and builder of two juvenile detention centers.