“Kids for Cash” Cleanup Finished
A Berks County judge brought in to clean up after the so-called "kids for cash" scandal has expunged every juvenile court case decided by a judge convicted of corruption. Senior Judge Arthur Grim has cleared the records of more than two thousand people whose cases came before former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella.
Ciavarella and another ex-judge were convicted of funneling juveniles into youth detention centers run by a local developer. That developer paid the judges more than two million dollars, calling it a "finder's fee." A federal judge ruled that it was a bribe.
Judge Grim also gave out $65,000 in restitution for those who were awarded damages in cases where juveniles were originally sentenced by Ciavarella.
In a final report to the state Supreme Court, Grim suggests legislative action to create a statewide juvenile victim advocate. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille said the courts have already changed some procedural rules to make sure juvenile defendants are treated more fairly.
"One of them is, 'You can't shackle these kids in court.' It's what Ciavarella was doing," said Castille. "He'd find them guilty of, say, shoplifting, and he'd order them shackled and hauled out of court right then and there. You don't want to be shackled and hauled out of court if you're nonviolent or not dangerous. It's kind of demeaning."