Hundreds of people turned to Facebook to offer message of congratulations – as if the case had been closed.
I’m glad Rose Quinn, reporter for the Delaware County Daily Times, wrote that line because I thought I was missing something.
In the little city of Chester, Pennsylvania, nearly everyone knows one another, and, for the most part, we like each other. If we’re not real friends with each other, many of us are Facebook friends. So, when I started seeing messages of congratulations being posted for Judge Dawn Vann, I wondered what it was all about since no details were being shared on Facebook. The following day, the newspaper article detailing results of Vann’s court settlement appeared and I still couldn’t understand what she was being congratulated for.
From what I read, Vann made some bad moves, admitted to them, and rather than going through a trial, she decided to admit to 5 charges of wrongdoing. So why is she being congratulated by so many ‘friends?’
I knew she was in some kind of trouble, but I never was interested enough to seek details. Now that the story is in the paper, I must say that I find the details amusing as much as they are troubling. My recap is as follows:
Bill Junior and his wife Mikia has split-up and Bill Junior moved back home with momma and Bill Senior. Mikia and her sister came over to Bill Junior’s house and they started arguing in the streets. Momma came out the house and put Bill Junior in ‘time-out’, telling him to go to his room. Bill Junior went in the house but came right back outside from another door. The argument picked back up again between Mikia and Bill Junior. Momma noticed Mikia and her sister hitting Bill Junior with a switch (tree branch) and tried to stop them, but the sisters don’t remember swinging any switches and said momma was swinging the switches. Mikia fell down and cut her finger which landed her a visit to the emergency room. It took Bill Senior to break up the fight and call the police.
Somehow, during the switch swinging, Mikia called Judge Vann who called the police, too. Mikia told the policeman to arrest Bill Junior for fighting her. Hearing this, Bill Junior hauled-ass outta there. The policeman must not have believed a thing anyone was saying and hopped back in his car and drove off without filing any charges. While the policeman was filing his report back at the precinct, he was told to call Vann who asked him to file a police criminal complaint against Bill Junior, but he said no.
Four days later, Vann told another policeman to arrest Bill Junior and his momma, and he did with a back dated warrant. Vann issued the warrants and found another district judge to conduct the preliminary arraignment where he set a $250,000 bail for Bill Junior and a $5,000 for the momma. The day after the prelim, Mikia obtained protection orders against Bill Junior and his parents which was granted by Vann.
The family was going to file a civil complaint against Vann, but settled for $75,000 instead. Charges were subsequently dropped for Bill Junior and momma. As if that wasn’t enough, Bill Senior also filed an ethics investigation against Vann because he wanted ‘relief’ for his family. Since the filing in January, Vann was told to stay home from work. For her troubles, she still gets paid as if she goes to work everyday.
Vann was not prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing in that hearing but decided to cut the hearing short by admitting to: Failing to withdraw from a case when withdrawal was mandatory; engaging in a egregious conflict of interest; failing to act impartially; failing to respect and comply with the law; and failing to act in a manner promoting public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the courts. One of these days the courts will decide to either reprimand, suspend, or remove her from office.
Coincidently, on the very next day after this story hit the paper, the Delcotimes posted an AP article (‘3-justices assess high court’s tarnished public image’) where we’re reminded of Justice elect Joan Orie Melvin who was convicted of pubic corruption for using her staff in her campaign work, and Justice Seamus McCaffery who was involved in the Porngate email scandal along with Justice Michael Eakin. Then there’s State Attorney General Kathleen Kane who was charged with lying. Not mentioned in the article, but the guy I consider the ultimate scumbag, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who was convicted of accepting bribes for putting juveniles into detention centers in exchange for millions. Pennsylvania judges are fast becoming the new bad boys of politics.
If you can’t trust that judges are going to do the right thing, it’s hard to have complete faith in the judicial system. Maybe that’s why voters in Chester cast so few votes for their district judges. In 2007, Vann won the primary with 253 Democrat votes over Bill Riley, Sr., who scraped together a meager 126 votes. In 2011, Spencer Seaton defeated Pat Worrell 373 to 238.
Should we take judicial elections more seriously? Or is congratulations enough?