Report of the PBA Task Force on the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice

May 6, 2011

PBA Task Force on the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice Report

The tragic failure of the juvenile court system in Luzerne County provided a wake-up call to all judges and lawyers about the extensive damage that can occur when we are not vigilant about our conduct and the conduct of others within the legal community. As officers of the court, we owe a special responsibility to protect members of the public, especially our children, from those who abuse their authority and contaminate the system of justice.

In establishing a task force to review the recommendations of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, the Pennsylvania Bar Association sought to highlight the importance of this responsibility and the respect for the rule of law among the members of the Pennsylvania legal community.

The task force report sets forth recommendations for actions the PBA can take to support the commission's recommendations and to strengthen the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania. The report also reviews the many positive steps that have been taken to improve the quality and fairness of the juvenile justice system over the past two years, but of course there is always more work to be done. We hope that the PBA and its members will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the juvenile courts throughout the commonwealth are a model of fair, impartial and restorative justice.


Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr.
PBA Vice President

Andrea Marceca Strong
Chair, PBA Children's Rights Committee

Task Force Report

Task Force Members

New Resources

Read the June 2011 ABA Report on the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts Recommends Changes to Judicial Discipline System
June 15, 2011 - Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) has released its Report and Recommendations for Improving the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System.

Maintaining public confidence in the courts requires certainty that there is a strong judicial discipline system to investigate and punish judicial misconduct. But as PMC Deputy Director Shira J. Goodman noted, "In the wake of the Luzerne County scandal, Pennsylvanians are not sure this is the case. Steps must be taken to restore public trust in the System."

The recommendations include enhancing the accountability, transparency, and independence of the Judicial Discipline System; improving service to those who complain about judicial conduct; and sufficiently funding the System. Goodman explained, "PMC focused on how to strengthen the Judicial Discipline System and enable it to better serve the public. We understand this will take resources in a time of tight budgets, but Pennsylvanians want a Judicial Discipline System that will, above all, operate in a way that protects the public from judicial misconduct."

PMC's Report on the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System may be found here.

Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice (General Information on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Website)
    ICJJ Final Report (May 2010)
    ICJJ Summary of Recommendations (May 2010)

Chief Justice Castille Provides an Update on Reforms Resulting From Luzerne County Juvenile Justice Scandal (March 2011)

Judicial Conduct Board Website
    JCB Internal Operating Procedures

Disciplinary Board Website

Juvenile Court Judges' Commission Website

Pennsylvania District Attorney Association Standards for Pennsylvania Prosecutors in Juvenile Courts developed by the PDAA's Juvenile Prosecutors Network (April 28, 2010)

Performance Guidelines for Quality and Effective Juvenile Delinquency Representation developed by the Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania (As Updated April 15, 2010)

"Learning the Hard Lessons" by John Cleland, The Pennsylvania Lawyer, Nov./Dec. 2010

"Confronting Judicial Misconduct" by Don Sarvey, The Pennsylvania Lawyer, Nov./Dec. 2009

On the Juvenile Law Center Website
Pursuing Justice Podcasts, "Reform in the Wake of Luzerne: A Multi-Part Series." In this podcast miniseries, Juvenile Law Center examines the structural issues in the juvenile justice system that allowed this scandal to occur and the reforms that still need to be put in place to protect youth and to prevent such scandals from happening again. Additional information on reforms that Juvenile Law Center has proposed for Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system can be found on their State Legislation and Reform page.

Assessing the Quality of Child Advocacy in Dependency Proceedings in Pennsylvania (October 2010)

Information Addressing the Topic of Children's Ombudsman

Testimony of Frank P. Cervone, Esq., Executive Director, Support Center for Child Advocates, Nov. 1, 2007 on Children's Ombudsman and H.B. 1709 (Printer's No. 2270)

Testimony of Anne Marie Lancour, American Bar Association, Nov. 1, 2007, on Establishing the Commonwealth Children's Ombudsman and the Commonwealth Children's Ombudsman Office

OJJDP Report on State Ombudsman Programs (2005)

Chapter on "Children's Ombudsman and Complaint Resolution" in the Report of the Advisory Committee on Services to Children and Youth, Joint State Government Commission (2002).

Rhode Island's Children's Ombudsman, Office of the Child Advocate