HARRISBURG – The state Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a stay of the Court of Judicial Discipline’s ruling that removed judge Ann Lokuta from office and directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth not to place her judicial seat on the May ballot.
Lokuta has contended all along that charges against her were orchestrated by admitted crook Judge Michael Conahan with the help of the other Juvie Brother Mark Ciavarella and Conahan's cousin Bill Sharkey because she was cooperating with the Federal corruption probe. Throw in the involvement of his business partners Jill Moran, Richard Sprague and Patrick Judge in this seemed to convice the state Supreme Court stay her removal from the bench because of after-discovered evidence that was revealed as part of the corruption probe in the county judiciary. The Supremes ordered the Court of Judicial Discipline to determine whether it should reconsider it's decision to remove her and grant a new hearing.
This throws a monkey wrench into the campaigns of the 17 Judicial hopefuls because now there will be only 2 seats up for grabs instead of 3.
Timeline from the CV:
April 2004: A complaint from a former Lokuta staffer leads to an investigation by the state Judicial Conduct Board.
April 2005: The Conduct Board formally informs Lokuta of its investigation.
November 2006: Lokuta is charged with six counts of misconduct by the state Judicial Conduct Board. She is accused of being abusive to court staff and attorneys and late or absent for court proceedings.
September 2007-January 2008: Lokuta is tried before a three-judge panel from the state Court of Judicial Discipline. Lokuta testifies she is the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by former president judge Michael T. Conahan, who was angered because she talked to federal investigators about his handling of case assignments. Conahan used his position to influence other prosecution witnesses, she testifies.
Oct. 30, 2008: The Court of Judicial Discipline finds Lokuta guilty.
Nov. 5, 2008: The court suspends Lokuta without pay.
Dec. 9, 2008: Lokuta is officially removed from the bench.
Jan. 6, 2009: Lokuta appeals to the state Supreme Court.
Jan. 26, 2009: Conahan and fellow judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., who also testified against Lokuta, are charged with accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks. They eventually plead guilty and are relieved of judicial duties.
Feb. 3, 2009: Another witness against Lokuta, county court administrator William T. Sharkey Sr., is charged with embezzling $70,000 in court funds. He eventually pleads guilty.
March 3, 2009: Lokuta asks the state Supreme Court to postpone an election to fill her seat.
March 25, 2009: The Supreme Court cancels the election and orders the Court of Judicial Discipline to consider holding a hearing on whether evidence of courthouse corruption involving prosecution witnesses would have affected the outcome of Lokuta’s trial.
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