Pa. Judge Banned from Bench for Treating Staff Like Servants
Posted Dec 10, 2008 12:48 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A Pennsylvania judge has been banned from the bench for belittling her staff, using court personnel to clean her home and creating a war-like atmosphere with other judges.
The state’s Court of Judicial Discipline ruled 6-1 on Monday that Judge Ann Lokuta of Luzerne County may never serve as a judge again, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports. Lokuta has vowed to appeal.
The judicial discipline court said in an October opinion that Lokuta’s conduct evoked Lewis Carroll or Dickens. “We daresay that the reasonable expectations of the public would include the expectation that a judge would not require her law clerk to spend her time raking the judge’s yard, bubble-wrapping the judge’s things or scrubbing the judge’s floors,” the court wrote.
The court also said Lokuta acknowledged a bias against certain lawyers and then issued rulings against them, and lodged a false complaint that a court administrator had assaulted an associate.
Fifteen lawyers testified on behalf of Lokuta at the sanctions hearing on Tuesday, saying she had a reputation for being fair, dignified and truthful, the Times Leader story says. Lokuta’s lawyer, Louis Sinatra, said his client had many strong qualities. “You have heard testimony today that this judge is worth saving,” he said.
The Associated Press also covered the story.