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Friday, May 2, 2008

Judge Ciavarella defends his stance with regards to Vita

Judge Conahan pictured here

Luzerne county is coming under fire for its judicial practices. Citizens of Luzerne county speak out on the corruption in they're judicial system. Some are asking for a investigation into the court system. Judge Conahan and Dr. Vita, his brother-in-law could not be reached for comment. I am wondering if the citizens will start to question some of the Judges prior cases.
One case comes to mind with regards to Judge Conahan. That would be the "correction" of the record of Bryan Kocis. Maybe just maybe it is going to come back and bite them in the ass. Now I don't know about any of you all but the murder of Mr. Kocis is going to bring more attention to the practices of the Luzerne County Judicial system.
I have always wondered if it was just a coincidence that Judge Conahan retired right before Joe and Harlow were arrested. Was that a calculated move to protect himself from the fallout of his prior ruling with regards to the murder victims criminal past.

Murder victim Bryan kocis pictured left and murder suspects Joe kerekes and Harlow Cuadra pictured right

The arrest of Joe and Harlow and the subsequent trial would bring to light much negativity with regards to the Judge's ruling on the murder victims case. Could that be the reason that Judge Ciavarella stepped into Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. case and allowed the suspects to have the same attorneys as the victim. It is rumored that Judge Conahan hand picked Judge Ciavarella as his successor. It really makes you wonder what is going on in Luzerne County. The "Times Leader" seems to be questioning the conduct of the judicial system of Luzerne county. I myself think it is high time. I wonder if Ciavarella is related to Conahan or Vita. Also there is the question of the "good friend" of Conahan who runs the youth detention facility that most of the juvenile criminals are sentenced to.

More questions raised over services of county juvenile court psychologist
Woman says family forced to use Vita’s services, at a cost of thousands.
Jennifer Learn-Andes jandes@timesleader.comLuzerne County Reporter
A Plains Township woman said a Luzerne County judge forced her and family members to undergo counseling with psychologist Frank Vita as part of her son’s juvenile court proceeding, costing her thousands of dollars out of her own pocket.

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Erica Michaliga said she now questions that court order in light of the recent revelation that Vita is the brother-in-law of Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge Mike Conahan.
But Court of Common Pleas President Judge Mark Ciavarella, who signed the court order, said Michaliga is completely off base because she and her mother-in-law requested Vita in the first place.
“They were so happy with Dr. Vita after the psych evaluation, that they asked if they could continue to see him,” Ciavarella said. “They requested Dr. Vita.”
Michaliga said she initially welcomed Vita’s counseling because she thought it would be temporary and covered by insurance.
Michaliga said she doesn’t believe the judge made it clear that she had a choice. She said she frequently told Vita she was having difficulty paying him. She plans to review the court transcripts because she believes she raised concerns about the cost of the payment in court.
Vita got involved with the case because the county had paid him to conduct a psychological evaluation of her son, she said. Michaliga said Vita told her he was recommending counseling to the judge and offered to provide it. She said she thought it was a good idea to stay with him because Vita played a key role in the judge’s decision on where her son would be placed.
Ciavarella said Michaliga and her mother-in-law, who was also involved in the counseling, were free to choose any counselor, and he said he never received a request to switch counselors.
“I didn’t care what family counselor they went to. I never would have ordered Dr. Vita without their input,” he said.
The mother-in-law was not named in the documents, and Michaliga said the mother-in-law was not willing to speak to a reporter.
Michaliga said she paid Vita thousands of dollars and has asked him for a copy of bills so she may determine the exact amount. Vita could not be reached for comment on several attempts.
On July 7, 2006, Ciavarella ordered her to pay Vita $1,075 in overdue payments within 30 days. He said Michaliga was trying to “stiff” Vita.
Michaliga and Ciavarella have clashed in the past over a court case involving an insurance claim at Atmosphere Salon and Day Spa, which she used to own.
The county has paid Vita $1.1 million since 2001 to provide psychological evaluations of juvenile offenders, county records show.
County officials plan to publicly advertise the work before July 1 – something that wasn’t done in the past – to determine if other psychologists are interested. The cost of the service will also be considered, county officials say.
Vita charges $90 per hour and usually bills between 14 and 19 hours for work associated with each juvenile, his bills show.
The county probation office, which determines which clients are evaluated by Vita, reported Thursday that Vita saw 120 juvenile offenders in 2007 and 40 offenders this year to date.
Vita was paid $180,360 in 2007 and $74,160 so far this year.
Jennifer Learn-Andes, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 831-7333.