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Superior Court could use a bit of a nudge EDWARD LEWIS OPINION

Don’t worry, Hugo Selenski, we haven’t forgotten about you.

You’ll be front page headlines once again as soon as the state Superior Court finds a can of WD-40 to lubricate their squeaky wheels that seem to stop revolving.

I’m not going to apologize if I sound a little harsh in my criticism of the appellate courts.

It’s been one year and three days since attorneys involved in Selenski’s capital murder case argued about duct tape and flex ties before the Superior Court.

That’s 368 days of waiting for the court’s decision on whether or not the items can or cannot be used in Selenski’s trial in the killings of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett.

It disturbed me when I read a March 12 letter from another appellate court – the state Supreme Court -- that ordered Luzerne County President Judge Chester Muroski to issue “progress reports every 30 days until further notice.”

Muroski is leading the charge to restore the public’s trust of the county’s judicial system after judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan got their hands – and arms – caught in the cookie jar.

Muroski was ordered to issue progress reports every month while the families of Kerkowski and Fassett have been patiently waiting for justice to be served.

Turning the message around

It was Muroski who told prosecutors in May 2007 that they couldn’t use duct tape and flex ties recovered from a Monroe County robbery during Selenski’s trial in Luzerne County.

Selenski is suspected of using duct tape and flex ties in the robbery of Tannersville jewelry store owner Samuel Goosay on Jan. 27, 2003.

Prosecutors said a laboratory test showed the duct tape and flex ties recovered from the bodies of Kerkowski and Fassett on June 5, 2003, are consistent with the items used in the Goosay robbery.

“The potential prejudice of admitting such evidence would far outweigh its probative value,” Muroski said nearly two years ago.

Prosecutors timely challenged Muroski’s opinion to the Superior Court in June 2007.

Attorneys argued their respective positions before the Superior Court on March 19, 2008.

And we’ve been waiting for their opinion.

It usually takes several months for appellate courts to issue opinions on matters that are appealed.

But waiting more than a year is clearly unacceptable.

With a few word changes, perhaps the Supreme Court can issue the same letter they sent to Muroski on March 12 to their Superior Court colleagues.

“The (Supreme) Court would like a written update on the specific actions that the Superior Court has taken to address the appeal of Hugo Selenski.

“We would like that report no later than March 30, 2009. Further, we would like an update on the Superior Court’s progress every 30 days thereafter until further notice. By necessity, we must depend on the leadership of our Superior Court, but the former situation demonstrates that there may be further effective action that the Supreme Court can take to prevent such a disastrous situation from occurring in other appellate cases.”

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