Law firm seeks to incorporate Powell plea in campaign to overturn verdict
Published: June 17, 2009
A Hazleton law firm moved Tuesday to incorporate evidence of attorney Robert J. Powell's plea agreement in the ongoing Luzerne County corruption probe into their campaign to have a $3.4 million legal malpractice verdict overturned.
Attorneys from Laputka, Bayless, Ecker & Cohn filed a motion Tuesday asking a judge to allow them to supplement the case record with the plea agreement and the criminal charges filed against Powell in U.S. District Court - failing to report a felony and being an accessory to tax conspiracy. Details of the charges and agreement were released last week.
The firm is seeking to have the jury verdict overturned, arguing disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. should have recused himself from the case because of his relationship with opposing attorney Robert J. Powell.
Powell is accused of paying $772,500 in kickbacks to Ciavarella and former Judge Michael T. Conahan to facilitate the development and operation of a juvenile detention center he co-owned. Powell claimed in February he was a "victim" who gave in to the judges' "demands for payment." Ciavarella and Conahan pleaded guilty in February to corruption charges. They face 87 months in prison under their plea agreements.