Distinguished Judge, Carlon M. O’Malley, Remembered

July 6, 2018

Thomas J. Munley remembers sitting in his law office back in 2005, just after he won election as a county judge. He wasn’t nervous to start the new role, he recalled. Even so, his mentor and longtime county Judge Carlon M. O’Malley told him something then that he’ll never forget. “Whatever you need, I’ll be with you. I’ll never leave your side,” O’Malley told him. Like many in the area’s legal community, Munley described O’Malley as one of his heroes, a friend whose camaraderie left a lasting impression, and a phenomenal judge. “He was above reproach. And I say that without hesitation,” he said. O’Malley, 88, died Thursday afternoon at his home in Clarks Summit, surrounded by his family. The son of former District Attorney Carlon M. O’Malley Sr., he graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1951 and received his law degree from Temple University in 1954. He then served as a second lieutenant pilot in the Air Force and was an officer with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard until he started practicing law in 1957. His public career included an appointment as first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; U.S. attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Scranton director of public safety. In 1986, Gov. Robert P. Casey appointed O’Malley to the Court of Common Pleas, 45th Judicial District, and, in the following year, O’Malley won election to a full 10-year term. He retired from the bench in 2010 and returned to private practice. Colleagues and friends remember O’Malley as intelligent, principled, quiet and stern but kind. “If I had a word to describe him, it would be distinguished,” said longtime Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty. O’Malley, she remembered, sat in the same booth on the right side of Farley’s every day to eat lunch and read his newspaper. She often saw him crossing the streets downtown in a tan overcoat. She first met him when O’Malley was the director of public safety and she worked as a receptionist for her late husband, then-Mayor James B. McNulty. Rafalko McNulty joked that her husband never listened to anyone, but when O’Malley gave him advice, he listened. She recalls the reverence everyone had for him, how a respectful silence permeated the room whenever he entered. “He was a quiet man who said a lot in a few words,” she said. “He was a giant of a man.” Lackawanna County President Judge Michael J. Barrasse described O’Malley as a quiet giant with a wide spectrum of influence. Barrasse met O’Malley several decades ago when he was district attorney and, despite belonging to different political parties and having different upbringings, they developed a strong bond. “Carlon was respected not only as a great judge but also as a husband, father and, to many others, a great friend,” he said. An active member of the community, O’Malley was also president of the Lackawanna County American Cancer Society, elected exalted ruler of the Scranton Elks, district deputy grand exalted ruler of the Northeast District of the Pennsylvania Association, and president of the Pennsylvania Elks State Association. Todd O’Malley, Carlon’s younger brother, reflected with pride on their relationship and the former judge’s career. “He was extremely dignified and had a terrific sense of justice,” he said. “He brought out the best of everyone he was associated with.” Contact the writer: drosler@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5365; @droslerTT on Twitter

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