Judge rules seizure of evidence from another judge's chambers was legal

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A Pennsylvania state court judge denied a motion to suppress evidence filed on behalf of a now-former judge accused of stealing cocaine used as evidence in a case before him, according to the Observer-Reporter.

Senior Bedford County Judge Daniel Lee Howsare ruled Wednesday that a search of the offices of Paul Pozonsky when he was a Common Pleas judge in Washington County was not illegal. Howsare is a senior judge visiting Washington County to hear the case.

Police had searched Pozonsky’s office using an administrative order, not a search warrant, signed by Common Pleas President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca. They seized cocaine from a locker in Pozonsky’s courthouse office—it had been evidence in one of his cases, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier.

Howsare ruled that Pozonsky failed to show an “actual expectation of privacy” in certain areas of his chambers, and that the items seized were not Pozonsky’s property, but rather exhibits for a case in his court.

Pozonsky resigned in 2012 after reports that a grand jury was investigating the matter. He was on the bench for nearly 15 years, and was a district magistrate for 13 years before that.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Could top judge OK search of colleague’s chambers? Ex-jurist charged in drug case says answer is no”

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-judge charged with stealing drug evidence while on the bench”

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