Who has not been smitten by the seashore? The majesty of the ocean, the fresh salt breeze and the relaxed lifestyle are indeed intoxicating. It's an attraction rendered inaccessible to most of us, except for brief periods, by multimillion-dollar real estate prices.
The beach seems to have a particularly magnetic effect on some former and soon-to-be former members of the Luzerne County Court.
Judge Michael T. Toole is the latest judge to find that ill-gotten access to some of that high-priced shore-side real estate is a beach made of moral and legal quicksand.
He is the third Luzerne County judge to sacrifice his reputation, legal career and justice itself in order to rub shoulders with legitimate millionaires at some tony seaside retreats.
Judge Toole has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges that he made biased rulings in favor of a lawyer who allowed him free use of a beach house, apparently at the New Jersey shore, and to failing to pay taxes on $30,000 he received from another lawyer.
Federal judges who handle the potential sentences for Judge Toole, and for Mr. Conahan and Mr. Ciavarella if they are convicted, must heed the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. But, given the wayward judges' proclivity for the seaside, nice cells at a desert locale would be appropriate punishment.
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Judges' Beaches Made of Quicksand
Third Luzerne County Court Judge Charged With Corruption