Thursday, April 25, 2013

Judge Resigns After Criminal Charges

The West Chester Daily Local News reports the resignation of a Pennsylvania district judge recently charged with criminal offenses:

[The judge] was charged with one count of tampering with records or identification, a first-degree misdemeanor, and one count of obstruction of administration of law or other government function, a second-degree misdemeanor. The first offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine and the second a maximum of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, although Arnold is unlikely to face either maximum penalty.

The charges brought by the state Attorney General’s Office accuse Arnold of intentionally obstructing the law by failing to properly perform her duty as an elected magisterial judge, and for concealing records pertaining to wrongdoing. Arnold last year admitted that she delayed docketing a summary harassment citation against her son, Forrest Solomon Jr., and then lying to investigators about what had happened with the citation.

Details from the Unionville Times:

According to the state’s criminal complaint, on Jan. 19, 2010, an altercation occurred at Arnold’s Downingtown home between Arnold’s son, Forrest “Forrie” C. Solomon Jr., who has a 12-year history of convictions ranging from indecent assault to drug offenses, and his half-brother, Jonathan Arnold,  both of whom lived with the judge. As a result of the dispute, Solomon was issued a summary offense citation, which was filed the following day by a state trooper in Arnold’s court, the complaint said.

The charges state that after Arnold received the citation, she returned it to the trooper. Although the citation was immediately returned to the district court, Arnold allegedly did not docket the citation and failed to follow proper procedures to transfer the matter to another district court, the complaint said.

Agents said that Arnold concealed the citation for 2 ½ months in an effort to protect her son from additional sanctions with the Chester County Probation Department, even instructing an employee to “hold on to this” because Solomon had “a probation hearing coming up and she didn’t know if this would affect it,” the complaint said.

After her son was in rehab and after questions from police about the docketing delay, Arnold, without the required knowledge or approval of Chester County President Judge James P. MacElree II, docketed the citation using her computer username and password, and then ordered an employee to transfer the citation to District Justice Mark Bruno’s court, according to the criminal complaint.  Bruno was suspended in February, accused in the Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket-fixing probe.

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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