Thursday, October 2, 2014

PA Supreme Court has authority to suspend judges

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling determining the high court has the power to suspend judges, reported The Legal Intelligencer.
The court's opinion is in response to a petition filed by Magisterial District Judge Bruno in 2013 after his indictment in the Philadelphia Traffic Court scandal, and is part of the larger debate on whether the high court's authority supersedes that of the Court of Judicial Discipline (CJD) to impose sanctions on judges.
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille wrote in the court's opinion, "The Supreme Court has the supervisory power, an aspect of its authority at King's Bench, to order the interim suspension without pay of sitting jurists."
According to Castille, Bruno and the Judicial Conduct Board had argued that 1993 amendments to the state constitution creating the board and the CJD stripped from the Supreme Court its ability to discipline judges; however, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts contended that the high court retained the ultimate disciplinary power.
"The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction at King's Bench to resolve the instant dispute, which implicates supervisory actions of the court relating to personnel of the Unified Judicial System," Castille added. "Acting within their respective authorities and jurisdictions, both the Supreme Court and the CJD have authority to issue orders of interim suspension and to impose sanctions upon jurists. To the extent that any such orders ultimately or necessarily conflict, the order of the Supreme Court is 'supreme' and controlling."
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