By Saranac Hale Spencer
Of the Legal Staff
The detention centers in the “kids-for-cash” scandal were denied their mandamus petition by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today.
After the district judge handling the civil action – filed by parents of the juveniles who were sent to the detention centers by Luzerne County Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. as part of a kickback scheme for which the pair were separately convicted – decided that the youths’ records would be off-limits in discovery, the detention centers sought a writ of mandamus from the appeals court.
“Mandamus may not be ‘used as a substitute for the regular appeals process.’ Petitioners are seeking just such a substitute here,” a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit said in a two-page, non-precedential opinion in In re Pa. Child Care, quoting from the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Cheney v. U.S. District Court.
Third Circuit Judges Marjorie O. Rendell, D. Michael Fisher and Kent Jordan said there is a more appropriate avenue for relief available to the detention centers, which is an appeal of the final judgment in the district court.