JANUARY 18, 2008
The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has dismissed an ethics complaint filed against a state court judge for publicly stating that local authorities need more power to deal with illegal immigrants.
The Superior Court judge, Correale Stevens, also said that county judges should be given deportation authority. Judge Stevens made the comments during a September 2007 event, sponsored by several Pennsylvania legislators, at the state capitol in Harrisburg.
The lawmakers held a news conference to release a report detailing 120 criminal incidents involving 3,100 illegal immigrants in the last four years. The idea was to point out the federal government’s failure regarding immigration laws and therefore the state legislature’s need to enact its own measures to address illegal immigration.
A Mexican-American Philadelphia attorney who advocates for illegal immigrants filed the ethics complaint against the judge. The complaint said that, by attending the September rally in Harrisburg, Stevens put himself into an emotional debate about immigration, undermining the impartiality and credibility of the court.
A relieved Stevens says he knew he did nothing wrong since judicial rules allow him to speak on issues as long as he doesn’t reveal how he would vote on a case. He maintains that illegal immigration is causing problems for the administration of justice and believes federal authorities should empower county judges to hold deportation hearings.
In November, Judge Stevens was reelected to his second term on the bench. Before being elected to the Superior Court in 1997, he served four terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and as Luzerne County District Attorney.
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