Last week, I told you that Northampton County's nine judicial law clerks are an entitled bunch. They are overpaid, and as a result, some of them now treat an apprenticeship as a career option. Three of them are vested in the county pension, which has a negative impact on county finances. They have also cost the County $110,225 in divorce stipends since 2010, getting paid to do what their job description already requires. Some of even moonlighting doing legal research for attorneys who practice in Northampton County court.
President Judge Stephen Baratta is pretty much blameless in this matter. He was never involved in setting, managing or paying out this execrable divorce stipend, which goes back to the days when clerks were paid a pittance. He also made clear that his factotums put in a full work, something his own work product proves. He also reassured Council that no clerk of his has ever been given permission to do outside legal work. But he also said that the Code of Conduct for law clerks was recently revised. That's true, but any reasonable interpretation of the Code should make it pretty clear that no clerk should be permitted to do research for an attorney who practices in Northampton County, even if it is research for another county. Permitting this kind of behavior completely undermines public confidence in the judiciary and totally defeats the purpose of a Code of Conduct.
If PJ Baratta refuses to permit his clerk to moonlight for attorneys, that should be a signal to other judges.