The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 27, 2013

County commissioners dodge judge

Sunshine Law case to be heard by federal jurist

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY - Northumberland County Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy scrambled Tuesday and Wednesday to transfer a lawsuit filed by a Coal Township man to federal court after learning a county judge was going to take the case.

William Knapick filed the complaint against Clausi and Bridy after claiming commissioners imposed a two-minute limit on public comment and Clausi afforded no opportunity for public discussion of the new rule.

Knapick also claims Clausi cut him off 90 seconds into his public comments.

The two commissioners broke the Sunshine Law Act by imposing the new rule, Knapick said.

Clausi and Bridy were sued by Knapick’s attorneys, Kymberley Best and Tim Bowers, of Sunbury.

President Judge Robert Sacavage on March 21 sent a letter to Best, Bowers and the commissioners saying the court should not hear the case because the judge regularly deals with commissioners.

Sacavage recused himself, saying, “It is not appropriate for this court to hear the matter. I therefore recuse myself in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest.”

Judge William Wiest recused himself as well.

Judge Charles Saylor on Monday sent a letter to the commissioners saying he would be hearing the case this afternoon.

That sent Clausi and Bridy scrambling Tuesday and Wednesday to seek a transfer of the case to federal court.