Ann H. Lokuta answers the telephone at her Dupont home with a gentle reminder for a caller who still addresses her as "Judge Lokuta."
"Call me Annie," the 56-year-old former jurist says in a calm, disarming voice her sharpest critics said they seldom, if ever, heard in her courtroom. "I'm no longer a judge."
The distinction, Lokuta hopes, is temporary.
Two years after her permanent removal from the bench, Lokuta remains confident the state Supreme Court will eventually overturn her sentence and return her to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas seat she had held since 1991.
Lokuta has prayed for a return to the bench since that dreary day at the state capitol in 2008 when the state Court of Judicial Discipline voted to bar her from judicial office and strip her of her pension.
Lokuta, following protocol even in the most excruciating of moments, stood frozen for more than a minute after the ruling, as the seven-member panel filed from the courtroom - the gilded, mural-lined chamber of the state Supreme Court.
If Lokuta's prayers are heard, if her hopes are realized, the ruling returning her to office will come from the same chamber, or a similar room in Philadelphia, where the high court will sit for a term in the late winter and early spring.
"I trust that if there's a sense of fairness, I will be restored to my former position," Lokuta says, remaining faithful to the legal process even after a Court of Judicial Discipline hearing last November that her attorneys described in court papers as a "sham proceeding" designed to keep her of the bench.
At the hearing, Lokuta and her attorneys argued the corruption that led to federal charges against three judges, a county commissioner and other officials had irreparably tainted her misconduct trial.
The discipline court narrowly rejected the argument, triggering Lokuta's latest in a series of appeals and petitions to the state Supreme Court.
"It might be a longer journey than I anticipated, but I'm just ready to hunker down and continue in my pursuit of this," Lokuta says.
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Former Judge Lokuta Waits for Decision on Return to Bench