While the focus of the upstate Pennsylvania cash-for-kids scandal rightly has been on two rogue judges, a legislative oversight panel last week began a review that should make other stakeholders in juvenile-justice and political circles squirm.
The former Luzerne County judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, initially agreed to plead guilty, but a judge rejected the deal. They are now fighting a 48-count federal indictment for taking $2.6 million in bribes.
In return for those payments from the operators of two private prisons, the judges allegedly engaged in misconduct that hearkens back to grim Dickensian times: They packed off hundreds of kids to jail, often after perfunctory hearings at which teens were advised they didn't need a lawyer.
In the tradition of public corruption going back to Tammany Hall, the former judges could be said to have seen their opportunities, and so they "took 'em."
But what about other key players in the county and statewide who turned a blind eye, ignored red flags, or found themselves powerless to object?
That's the most important line of inquiry for the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, an 11-member panel formed by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, Gov. Rendell, and state lawmakers.
Federal prosecutors no doubt will want to track the commission's inquiry, as well, for any evidence of other wrongdoing.
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Editorial: Judging the Judges