HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille is warning of additional fallout if it’s true that judges were among those who exchanged pornographic material by email with members of the attorney general’s office. The Commonwealth’s top judge says exchanging such material with government lawyers who appeared before them could represent a conflict of interest, in addition to being an ethics violation. The state attorney general reports that at least three dozen current and former employees sent or received pornographic material in office emails from 2008 to 2012. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the emails circulated among some top jurists. If judges were involved, Castille has asked the attorney general for their names.
EPHRATA – A Lancaster County man died after a crash yesterday in Ephrata Township. Police say around 11:40 a.m., 55-year-old Kevin Gress of Denver was southbound in the passing lane on Route 222, north of the Route 322 exit, when his SUV went out control and hit the Route 322 exit sign. The vehicle then rolled onto its side, skidded across the exit ramp, and flipped several times before coming to rest on an embankment. Gress was extricated from the vehicle and taken to Lancaster General Hospital where he died. The investigation into the crash continues.
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough today urged the state Senate to act quickly to pass legislation that would allow Wildlife Conservation Officers working for the Game Commission and Waterways Conservation Officers working for the state Fish and Boat Commission to wear body cameras in performance of their official duties. The state House overwhelmingly has supported House Bill 2178. Hough urged the Senate to follow suit. He also said the fall hunting seasons are almost here, and officers already have begun ramping up patrols to stop poaching activity and other illegal practices. Mobile video-recording devices have been shown to make the jobs of law-enforcement officers safer, and a timely vote by Senators to allow Wildlife Conservation Officers to wear the cameras now, as they enter their busiest time of year, would have an immediate impact with measurable results.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s chief Supreme Court justice says county courts are adopting civil case management processes to help them wrap up cases within two years. He blames certain court rules that made it difficult for inactive cases to be purged. In other cases, he says, counties didn’t have case management systems or they had a culture that allowed lawyers to dictate the pace of litigation. Now, he says, each county has a case management plan and president judges know that cases shouldn’t go beyond two years.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Two defendants in the Pennsylvania Turnpike corruption case could see the charges against them dropped if a judge allows them to enter a diversion program. Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis has slated a Tuesday hearing to consider whether Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski should enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. Lawyers for Miller, a former executive for a turnpike vendor, and Suzenski, a consultant to another vendor, say prosecutors are expected to recommend the move. The attorney general’s office declined to comment. Under the program, the charges would be dropped if they complete two years of probation without problems. Defendants awaiting trial in the alleged “pay-to-play” case include former state Sen. Robert Mellow, who’s in federal prison on an unrelated corruption conviction, and Joseph Brimmeier, the turnpike commission’s ex-CEO.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court chief justice is asking the state attorney general’s office for the names of any judges involved in email exchanges containing pornography. However, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Kathleen Kane said that the emails weren’t collected in a way that allows the office to readily identify those who might have been involved by job description. Kane’s office says hundreds of inter-office pornographic emails sent or received between 2008 and 2012 were discovered during its review of the Jerry Sandusky prosecution. Her office says the exchanges involved current and former employees of the attorney general’s office, including two current members of Gov. Tom Corbett’s cabinet. Chief Justice Ronald Castille’s spokesman, Jim Koval, says he doesn’t know why Castille believes judges were involved.
HARRISBURG – The PA General Assembly passed legislation that will help in the fight against heroin after a report examined the growing numbers of heroin and opioid-related deaths across the state. Senate Bill 1164 will prevent an individual from being charged or prosecuted in the event they obtain help for someone experiencing a drug overdose. In addition, the bill would provide emergency responders with access to naloxone, a life-saving treatment that can be administered to someone in the midst of a heroin overdose. The legislation, along with Senate Bill 1180 calling for a prescription drug database, are priorities for the York County Heroin Task Force. Sen. Jack Wagner joined the recently formed task force and said Baltimore is the heroin capitol of the world. He says the I-83 corridor from Baltimore to York County is a source of the county’s problem. The York County Heroin Task Force will hold a meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the York County School of Technology. Wagner said we need to see senate Bill 1180 gets to the Governor’s desk as well.
HARRISBURG – Legislation to privatize and regulate the bail bondsman industry is gaining momentum in Harrisburg. Senate Bill 1441 provides for the licensure of bail bondsmen by the Insurance Department and is intended to provide better regulation while enhancing overall liability coverage. The measure is supported by PA Bail Agents Association. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rich Alloway applauded the association’s support of the overhaul. He said the legislation will provide uniform rules to regulate the system, allow for more appropriate consequences for failure to appear, and streamline the bond forfeiture process. The state Senate Banking & Insurance Committee held a public hearing on the measure last week.
LANCASTER – Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of two suspects in a fatal home invasion case in Clay Township, Lancaster County. 23-year-old Brett Simmons was killed after two masked men entered a home in the 500 block of Clearview Road late Thursday night. His father, 44-year-old James Simmons, was injured and is hospitalized in critical condition. Authorities believe the suspects are white or light-skinned males. One suspect is described as being a young adult male, between five nine and five eleven, with an average to medium build. The second suspect is described as being a young adult male, about five nine, average to medium build with blonde hair and dark eyes. Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. David Burdis of Northern Lancaster County Regional Police at (717) 733-0965 or Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers at 1- 800- 322-1913, or you can anonymously Text a Tip to Crime Stoppers by using your cell phone. Text LANCS plus your message to 847411. Callers may remain anonymous and do not have to give their names.
UNIVERSITY PARK – A recent death and serious injury resulting from gases inside a Lancaster County silo are grim reminders to those working and living on farms that gases produced during the fermentation process can be deadly, according to a farm safety expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Emergency responders also should be ready to deal with silo gas emergencies, warned Davis Hill, senior extension associate in agricultural and biological engineering, because corn silage harvest is in full swing around Pennsylvania and the Northeast. He says the danger of silo gas will be with us for the next several weeks. Farmers need to take precautions if they feel they have to enter the silo during the two to three-week period after filling. Hill strongly recommends not going in. If farmers must enter, Hill advised, they should be sure to run the silo blower for at least 30 minutes before entry and during the time they are inside the silo performing their task. The silo blower will be effective at clearing any gases inside the silo and on the silo surface only if there is 15 feet or less of head space inside the silo. If silos have more than 15 feet of head space, he warned, farmers should not trust the silo blower to provide a gas-free space in which to work.