Letters To The Editor 10/10/2018
Broadcast high court
Editor: I read the commentaries by Bob Carlson and Elizabeth Wydra on the Oct. 1 Times-Tribune op-ed page, advocating greater public access to the proceedings of the U.S. Supreme Court via audio and video technology.
On a recent visit to Ottawa, Canada, I toured the Supreme Court of Canada. The court shares much in common with its American counterpart: Both have nine members, meet in their nations’ capitals and issue rulings that impact the lives of millions of their respective citizens.
Among the major differences is that the Supreme Court of Canada makes greater use of video streaming and recording of proceedings to allow citizens a higher level of access. Many of the concerns frequently mentioned against recording court proceedings, such as judges or attorneys playing to the cameras, have not deterred Canadians from making their highest court more accessible using 21st century technology.
All courtroom proceedings are webcast live on the Supreme Court website except, according to the website, when a proceeding is deemed unfit for live streaming due to a publication ban or privacy concerns.
An online archive allows visitors to view video recordings of court proceedings dating to Feb. 10, 2009. The court also has an agreement with the Canadian Public Affairs Channel to broadcast hearings on television at a later date. As the court holds copyright over all recordings, members of the media must request permission to use photos, videos or webcasts of court proceedings as part of media coverage.
I encourage justices of the U.S. Supreme Court to follow their Canadian counterparts and increase the accessibility of the court using audio and video technology. All Americans are impacted by the court’s decisions and in the digital media age, all of us should be able to view the proceedings of the court in action.
GERARD M. HETMAN
Affronts stack up
Editor: Here we go again with the issue of Dickson City police officers allowed to keep stacked overtime money.
During a recent special borough council meeting, members voted in favor of letting certain police officers keep the stacked overtime, including officer John Sobieski, who recently was reinstated from a past termination after an arbitrator ruled in favor of his return to the force.
I believe council should have voted to equally divide the total overtime money, $2,778, among honest officers who refused to indulge in such unethical tactics. Thanks to Dickson City Police Chief Stephen Margeson, who put a stop to the stacking of overtime in December 2017 and faced a union grievance from officers who allegedly stacked the overtime.
Councilmen Robert Hall, Stanley Prushinski, Richard Cesari and John Hovarth voted to let the bad cops keep the overtime money. Council President Jeff Kovaleski made the most intelligent move, opposing the agreement and stating the officers should return the money. Council members Paul Kwiec and Georgia Adamitis weren’t present and I believe they don’t want to make waves with the police union. Not one member of council spoke out against the illegal stacking of overtime money except for Kovaleski, so I assume they believe this illegal tactic is acceptable.
So where do we go with the upcoming police contract? Shouldn’t Dickson City make the first offer? This is usually the procedure, but since our borough lacks professional negotiators, this won’t happen. Anyway, thanks to Kovaleski for standing up for what is right by voting for the truth on stacked overtime.
JOSEPH T. PALICKAR
Editor: I am sorry that our country is so divided politically.
Neither side can foresee the potentially horrible results. We need to be united as a country. We have been lucky that there has not yet been a nuclear event in the United States.
We are like two different countries and some people predict another civil war. This is so sad. We are getting to the point of hating one another when we should unite as Americans. This is not simply politics, it is sickness.
Stoop to new low
Editor: At a recent rally in Mississippi, President Donald Trump succeeded in getting American citizens to cheer and clap at the expense of Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged victim of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice.
Whether the people at that rally believe Ford’s allegations or not, her emotional distress during her recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee was palpable. To see Trump’s supporters revel in another person’s anguish should be a reminder to all of us that this president has taken American moral leadership to a new low.
Editor: The American Civil Liberties Union has an important message for the citizens of Northeast Pennsylvania seeking justice, supporting real justice and believing in the principles of smart justice.
In September, the ACLU of Pennsylvania released a new report that outlines how Pennsylvania can cut incarceration in half by pursuing reforms to the commonwealth’s drug sentencing laws. The report also includes recommendations to reform the laws that in recent years have led to Pennsylvania having the third-highest per capita rate in the nation of people on parole, probation, or other community supervision.
The report is a part of the ACLU’s comprehensive, state-by-state analysis of how states can transform their criminal justice system and cut incarceration in half. This study addresses the causes undermining fair and equal administration of the rule of law, from systemic racial disparities to sentencing that is heavily tilted towards retribution instead of restorative justice, to harsh parole and probation rules that set up too many of those attempting successful re-entry for failure. It’s clear that we need deep and meaningful reform in Pennsylvania.
It is our hope the citizens of Northeast Pennsylvania will take the time to learn what each of us can do to promote and support smart justice, the linchpin of legal reformation for our complex, modern society.
NEPA ACLU CHAPTER