PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A state judge sued the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, claiming it unconstitutionally suspended him without pay after he was federally indicted – but not yet tried – in connection with alleged corruption in Philadelphia Traffic Court.
Judge Mark A. Bruno sued the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and six justices, including Chief Justice Ronald Castille, in Federal Court.
Bruno, of Magisterial District 15-1-01 in West Chester, was elected to 6-year terms in 1999, 2005 and 2011. His present term ends in 2018.
In his complaint, Bruno claims he heard about his suspension on the news. He says the suspension order was improperly issued, and the Supreme Court has no right to discipline him anyway, since he has not been found guilty, and discipline is the job of the Judicial Disciplinary Court.
Bruno says his pay and benefits were suspended “without any hearing or opportunity to be heard or timely post deprivation hearing.”
Bruno was indicted on Jan. 29, in a federal investigation of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, where Bruno claims he “sat once a year for four or five days while Traffic Court Judges were away on training.”
Bruno “is mentioned in the conspiracy section [of the indictment], particularly in paragraph 29, where it is alleged that he and other defendants provided preferential treatment because of political support, business or other relationship,” the judge says in his complaint.
It continues: “He is mentioned in paragraph 30 where it is alleged that he and others used their position to manipulate Traffic Court cases.”
After citing specific alleged “overt acts” in the supposed conspiracy, Bruno says that he “is actually charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and aiding and abetting.”
Bruno claims that the indictment “alleges very little involvement by Judge Bruno.” He “emphatically” denies his guilt and says he will fight the charges.
He claims the state Supreme Court wrongfully relieved him of his judicial and administrative duties and suspended his pay without due process or an order of the court.
He says he got his notice of suspension on Feb. 5. He claims the defendants issued it “without even a rudimentary concern for fundamental due process.”
“The Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspending Judge Bruno without pay dated February 1, 2013, was issued without any opportunity to respond, without any notice the Supreme Court was considering suspending him, without any papers filed by the Judicial Conduct Board before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, without any opportunity for the plaintiff, Judge Bruno, to respond or have an adjudicatory hearing,” he says in the complaint.
Bruno claims the earliest trial date he can expect is in November or early 2014.
He wants to continue working.
He claims he has been “deprived his salary for which he was duly elected without due process of law, without finding that he violated any criminal statute and without any finding that he acted inappropriately or illegally or criminally.”
He seeks an injunction and restraining order, back pay and benefits.
He is represented by Samuel Stretton of West Chester, Pa.
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