The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 22, 2013

Budget deficits force delays in Snyder County jury trials

— MIDDLEBURG — All jury trials have been postponed in Snyder County until next year due to a $31,000 budget gap in the court budget.

Judge Michael T. Hudock recently announced it in open court, citing budget constraints for the decision to postpone fall trials in Snyder County.

District Attorney Michael Piecuch said he was planning to prosecute 10 to 12 cases in the fall term. All of them will be moved to the next trial term in early 2014.

President Judge Michael H. Sholley administers the court budgets in both Snyder and Union counties and made the decision to postpone trials in Snyder County alone.

Though he admits the court has overspent its annual budget in Snyder County, Sholley denies the reason for delaying trials was strictly financial.

He also disputes there were more than a handful of jury trials scheduled for this fall and said it didn’t make sense to call 100 potential jurors for one civil trial and one criminal case.

Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk said he spoke with Sholley about budget concerns, specifically a $31,191 deficit in the court’s $204,200 annual budget.

Derk said he was “a little surprised” when the judge told him jury trials would be postponed because of it, though he was assured the delays would not impact defendants’ rights to a speedy trial.

When informed of Derk’s comments, Sholley had a terse response: “Malcolm should stick to being a commissioner and let judges be judge.”

Sholley attributed his budget overspending to the costly prosecution of the Donald Seebold murder case in which three defendants were eventually acquitted in May and numerous jury trials with rising costs as well as the expense of hiring a court reporter to fill in for full-time court stenographer Colleen Wentz during maternity leave.

“I’ve been seeing a spike in the number of jury trials. I won’t speculate why,” said Sholley, who served nine years as district attorney in Snyder County before being elected judge in 2009. He became president judge in 2011.

As district attorney, Sholley said, he routinely kept his county budget 1- to 3-percent under budget. “That’s been my goal,” he said.

Piecuch said court personnel are “budget conscious and mindful that we’re stewards of taxpayer money. But at the end of the day there are cases to prosecute and we will prosecute them. We’re looking at next year’s budget, which we did this time last year with the Seebold case and as we do every year.”

His office is planning to prosecute three murder defendants next year, including the retrial of Seth Hornberger, the 20-year-old Mifflinburg man accused of fatally stabbing Alan Martin, 21, of Winfield, in March 2011, and husband and wife, Joshua and Jennifer Snook, of Sunbury, accused in the February killing of Joshua’s grandmother, Bonnie Snook, 71, in Beaver Township.

In the event the county lacks resources to prosecute a criminal defendant, Piecuch said, he would refer the case to the state Attorney General’s Office.

1
Text Only
News
  • Feds ship 500 children to Pennsylvania

    HARRISBURG — An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the southern U.S. border is spilling into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Hope Lewis Inmate's widow wants $750,000 from Northumberland County

    SUNBURY — The widow of a Shamokin man who hanged himself inside Northumberland County Prison is demanding $750,000, the firing of all jail employees who worked the night of June 16 and a complete overhaul of policies and procedures for suicidal inmates.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Vancliff Lifer gets more time for molesting Danville girls

    WILKES-BARRE — A convicted murderer accused of having persuaded a former Danville woman to bring two girls to visit him in a northeastern Pennsylvania prison so he could molest them has been sentenced to additional prison time and fined.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Union County driver, 86, dies near Weikert

    WEIKERT — An 86-year-old Weikert man died in a one-car accident Tuesday morning, when he lost control of his vehicle on Weikert Road in front of the Union County Sportsman’s Club, veered off the road and slammed into a tree.

    July 22, 2014

  • Director hired for Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area

    BURNSIDE — An Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area committee member with experience in the ATV industry was named the operations director of the park during Monday night’s authority meeting.

    July 22, 2014

  • Line Mountain hires expert to test gauge that failed

    MANDATA — Members of the Line Mountain school board Tuesday unanimously approved hiring an engineering expert to test a pressure gauge and fuel system that failed at the former Dalmatia Elementary School in February.

    July 22, 2014

  • 'Greatest con artist' gets 2 more years behind bars

    WILLIAMSPORT — The “greatest con artist” Senior Judge Robert Sacavage said he has ever seen was sentenced Monday to 2 more years in prison after he traveled outside the U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania without permission and failed to report to his probation officer.

    July 22, 2014

  • 1obamanew.jpg Conflicting rulings on Obamacare

    A federal appeals court has delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law, potentially derailing subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have bought policies.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • bearden9.jpg Bail reduced for Bearden

    Jasmine Bearden, who was arrested earlier this year on criminal attempted homicide charges for the alleged abuse of her six-week old baby, had her bail reduced in Union County on Tuesday morning.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • US airlines scrap Israel flights

    Two U.S. airlines cancelled all flights to Israel until further notice, after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

    July 22, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.