The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 6, 2012

Lawyers to losers: Lay off judge

File an appeal, Bridy and Clausi told

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY —  Attorney Joseph Michetti Jr., president of the Northumberland County Bar Association, says two county commissioners are unfairly criticizing one of the county’s judges.

Michetti said Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy are attacking Judge Charles Saylor because the judge ruled that they broke the state’s open meeting law. The commissioners have denied breaking the law, also known as the Sunshine Act, when they decided to order the county planning director to ban a Shamokin man from a section of county-owned land known as the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.

Since the ruling was handed down, Clausi and Bridy have challenged the judge to attend a commissioners meeting to discuss his decision and recently set up a prop desk chair with a sign that read “Reserved for the Honorable Judge Saylor.”

Michetti said the commissioners have challenged Saylor’s reputation and impartiality. Saylor cannot comment to the media because he is not allowed to discuss ongoing cases, Michetti said. He added that Clausi and Bridy should stop interfering with judicial decision-making.

“The same serves no legitimate purpose as there is no need for the same. Every litigant has the right to file an appeal,” Michetti wrote.

“Accordingly, if Commissioners Clausi and Bridy do not like the decision, then the remedy is to appeal the same.”

Clausi and Bridy, in fact, have appealed Saylor’s ruling to the U.S. Middle District Court.

Clausi dismissed Michetti’s comments.

“I didn’t expect anything less from a lawyer who has to defend the judge,” the commissioner said. “If they don’t protect the judge, then God forbid, they have to appear before him. They would lose every case and be out of business.”

Clausi said he respects the lawyers for taking a stance.

“I understand what they are doing,” he said. “It’s OK. I will continue to speak my mind and I will continue to be the grinch he called me and I will continue to defend the citizens of Northumberland County. These people need to realize that I’m breaking through all the little groups that stick together and do whatever they want. I will continue to ask that Judge Saylor come and discuss this with us at anytime. He could do it in public or he can make an appointment with the commissioners office and we can meet behind closed doors.”

Bridy said an appeal was an easy decision.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” Bridy said. “There is obvious issues with Commissioner Clausi and the judge and we lost the case. Go figure.”

Bridy said the commissioners are meeting with attorneys soon to discuss the appeal.

n Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.