Juvenile Law Center

Juvenile and Criminal Justice

In re J.V.R.

Juvenile Law Center filed a "King's Bench" petition in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in April 2008 on behalf of the hundreds of unrepresented children in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, who had been tried, convicted, and often sent to detention or placement in perfunctory hearings devoid of due process. The application requested that the Court exercise original jurisidiction and order that the unlawful juvenile adjudications be vacated and expunged. An amended petition was filed in December 2008 in the absence of any response from the Court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request on January 8, 2009.

On January 29, 2009, after the disclosure that former Luzerne County juvenile court judges Mark A. Ciavarella and Michael Conahan illegally received kickbacks from the private, for-profit detention facilities to which Ciavarella was sending children, Juvenile Law Center filed an expanded King's Bench petition seeking relief on behalf of all the juveniles he adjudicated or placed between 2003-2008. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted our motion and appointed Special Master Arthur Grim to oversee the litigation. In rulings issued in March 2009, October 2009, and March 2010, the court granted the motions to vacate the adjudications and expunge the records of all the children who Ciavarella had adjudicated. All petitions were ordered dismissed with prejudice; pursuant to these orders, none of the children can be re-tried.

On January 5, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced that their review of the Luzerne County juvenile court system was complete and returned complete control of the court system to the County. In total, Judge Grim expunged the records of 2,251 juveniles who appeared before former judge Ciavarella.



Juvenile Law Center Application and Amicus Briefs

Juvenile Law Center's Application for Extraordinary Jurisdiction - April 18, 2008

Department of Public Welfare Amicus Brief - May 12, 2008

State Attorney General Amicus Brief - May 15, 2008

Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania Amicus Brief - May 16, 2008


Motion to File Post-Submission Communication

Motion to File Post-Submission Communication - December 22, 2008


Juvenile Law Center Motion for Reconsideration

Motion for Reconsideration of Denial of Application - January 29, 2009

Order Granting Motion for Reconsideration - February 11, 2009


Special Master's First Interim Report and Recommendations

Order to Adopt and Approve First Interim Report and Recommendations - March 26, 2009


Preservation of Records

PA Supreme Court's Notice of Pending Expungement of Juvenile Records - May 4, 2009

Motion to Clarify and Modify Notice - May 8, 2009

Order Regarding Preservation of Court Records - August 7, 2009


Supplemental Briefing

Special Master's Order Requesting Memorandum - May 28, 2009

Petitioners' Brief in Response to Special Master's Order - June 9, 2009

Brief of the Commonwealth in Response to Special Master's Order - July 10, 2009


Special Master's Second Interim Report and Recommendations

Order Adopting and Approving Second Interim Report and Recommendations - July 22, 2009


Special Master's Third Interim Report and Recommendations

Third Interim Report and Recommendations of the Special Master - August 7, 2009

Commonwealth's Objections to Third Report and Recommendations - September 9, 2009

Petitioners' Reply to Objections - September 24, 2009

Order Adopting and Approving Special Master's Third Interim Report and Recommendations - October 29, 2009


Special Master's Final Report

Final Report of the Special Master - February 25, 2010

Order Adopting and Approving Special Master's Final Report - March 29, 2010


Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Order

Order Returning Luzerne County Juvenile Court Jurisdiction to Luzerne County Common Pleas Court - January 5, 2012



Case Number
81 M.M. 2008
April 18, 2008
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
State of Origin

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