The Legal Intelligencer by Zack Needles - February 22, 2011
According to media reports, York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh is in the process of reassigning Kelley's criminal cases to other county judges to avoid having any of Tallo's colleagues from the public defender's office appear before him Linebaugh could not be reached at press time. West Chester, Pa., attorney Samuel C. Stretton said he's tried several cases in front of Kelley and was "absolutely shocked" by the allegations. According to Stretton, a felony criminal conviction would result in Kelley's automatic removal from the bench, but even a misdemeanor conviction could be enough to get Kelley either suspended or removed from the bench. In addition, even if the criminal investigation dead-ends or Kelley is acquitted, the JCB could potentially launch its own investigation, after which it could file charges with the Court of Judicial Discipline. A woman who answered the phone at the JCB said information regarding the board's investigations is confidential. After checking with the JCB's chief counsel, Joseph A. Massa Jr., she said he was unavailable for comment but told her he didn't have anything to add beyond her point on confidentiality. Jim Koval, a spokesman for the judiciary, said Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille is aware of the allegations against Kelley but was unavailable for comment at press time. Both Kelley and Tallo could face punishment, however, if it's revealed that they hid their relationship while she tried cases in his courtroom. Linebaugh is quoted in media reports as saying both he and Chief Public Defender Bruce P. Blocher were apprised of the relationship by Kelley and Tallo and that steps were subsequently taken to make sure Tallo always appeared before one of the county's other three criminal court judges. A call to Blocher was not immediately returned, nor was a call to the York County District Attorney's Office to determine whether Tallo may have handled any cases in Kelley's courtroom before the two disclosed their relationship to their superiors. A finding that Kelley and Tallo were involved in the same case while in a relationship could result in both being punished, said Fox Rothschild Co-Chair Abraham Reich, whose practice includes legal ethics and professional responsibility. Reich said Kelley would "clearly" have had an "obligation to disqualify himself" from any case in which Tallo was defense counsel during their relationship. Furthermore, if an investigation were to reveal that Tallo and Kelley's relationship affected his rulings in some way, those judgments could be reversed and Kelley could again face removal. Neither Kelley's attorney, Christopher A. Ferro of Griest Himes Herrold Schaumann Ferro in York, nor Tallo's attorney, Suzanne Sennett Smith of Marshall & Smith in York, had returned calls for comment at press time.