The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Thursday that it will not stop Susquehanna County President Judge Jason Legg from appointing his former first assistant Marion O’Malley as the county’s new district attorney.
In a one-page order issued Thursday afternoon, the court refused to order Legg not to appoint O’Malley to replace former district attorney Robert Klein, who died last year. Last month, Klein’s first assistant, William Urbanski, asked the court to order Legg not to appoint O’Malley until a lawsuit he filed against Legg’s action was heard.
In its order the court directed the case back to Susquehanna County and instructed county officials to hear the case in an “expedited” manner.
Contacted at her Montrose office, O’Malley said she was unaware of any date set for her swearing in. O’Malley said that since the court’s decision had just been released earlier in the day she could not predict the case’s next step.
“I haven’t been apprised of being sworn in at this point,” O’Malley said. “I really don’t know what to expect. The decision just came out this afternoon,” she said.
In an emergency petition filed with the state Supreme Court last month, Urbanski claimed that Legg unlawfully refused to seat him as district attorney because he has not lived in Susquehanna County long enough. Legg had previously advised Urbanski that he was not eligible to serve as district attorney as he had not lived in the county for at least a year. The county bar association and the state Administrative Office Pennsylvania Courts both cited the same residency law in agreeing with Legg’s move.
Urbanski argued that as the first assistant district attorney under the law he inherited the position and that he had recently taken actions to establish residency in Susquehanna County.
Urbanski’s attorney Bruce Castor said Thursday that the court’s decision returns the case to Susquehanna County where he expects the high court to first appoint an out-of-county judge. Castor said he did not expect Legg to immediately swear in O’Malley as that might later cause unnecessary confusion in the court system if Legg’s decision were later found to be in error.
“The Supreme Court wants to have a trial court record, a trial court record and a trial court opinion so it then goes to the court in a more traditional way,” Castor said.
Read more in the Feb 8 Independent!