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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Attorney: Mikulak wants to testify in case

  • MILFORD - Magisterial District Judge Ted Mikulak wants to testify in the appeal hearing of former and current Honesdale Borough Council members convicted of violating the Sunshine Act, said lawyer Ronald Bugaj.
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  • MILFORD - Magisterial District Judge Ted Mikulak wants to testify in the appeal hearing of former and current Honesdale Borough Council members convicted of violating the Sunshine Act, said lawyer Ronald Bugaj.
    Bugaj, representing the council, made the statement Tuesday during an argument in Pike County Court on whether the district judge may testify.
    Specially presiding Judge Gregory H. Chelak heard the arguments from Bugaj and A. Taylor Williams, a lawyer for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which oversees district courts and doesn't want Mikulak to testify.
    The judge said he will take the arguments under advisement and will issue a decision well in advance of council's appeal hearing, scheduled for May 28 at 9 a.m. in Pike County Court.
    Bugaj appeared in court with Councilman Robert Jennings. The lawyer also is representing current council members James Brennan, Scott Smith and Juanita Pisano, and former members F.J. Monaghan, Harry DeVrieze and Samuel Mikulak, the district judge's brother.
    Bugaj told the court, "Judge Mikulak's testimony is very critical and he is eager and willing to testify."
    The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is seeking to quash a subpoena compelling Mikulak to testify at the appeal hearing. The motion also seeks a protective order shielding him from further subpoenas in the case.
    Mikulak was subpoenaed Jan. 31 to testify in the case, which is related to an Aug. 12, 2013, letter in which he asked to be placed on that evening's borough council agenda for an executive session. Mikulak requested the session to address "belittling misrepresentations" made by the then police officer in charge Ronald Kominski, the letter states.
    Williams, who spoke via phone from Philadelphia, cited case law while saying a judge may not be compelled to testify about actions taken in relation to his judicial function. The lawyer also said others were present at the council meeting and can be subpoenaed to testify as to the events that occurred.
    Bugaj disagreed, saying Mikulak has a better recollection of the incident.
    Also, the council's lawyer said, defendants cannot be compelled to testify in criminal cases. That means only two other people besides Mikulak could testify, Mayor Ed Langendoerfer and solicitor Richard Henry, Bugaj said.
    Langendoerfer's testimony is "polluted" because it runs opposite that of Mikulak and Henry "may or may not" give testimony but his recollection isn't as vivid as Mikulak's, Bugaj explained.
    Bugaj also said Mikulak will not be asked any questions regarding his judicial position.
    The judge is "fair game" to be subpoenaed, Bugaj added.
    Williams also argued that requiring Mikulak to testify would disrupt the Wayne County district court system because he would not be in his office in the event he testifies.
    Page 2 of 2 - Bugaj said district justices take vacations and sick days, and accommodations can be made to cover an absent judge.
    Bugaj also detailed what occurred at the August 2013 executive session.
    Mikulak came to the meeting and handed a letter to Monaghan, the president at the time, requesting the session.
    Monaghan placed the envelope in his pocket and granted Mikulak the executive session. The letter was not read during the closed-door meeting, Bugaj said.
    The only ones who spoke during the sometimes heated five- to 10-minute meeting were Langendoerfer and Mikulak.
    The other council members weren't immediately aware of what was going on and were in "awe" when they realized, Bugaj said.
    Council was found guilty of violating the Sunshine Act in October 2013.
    Kominski was not made aware the executive session was going to take place, and argued that was a violation of the Sunshine Act. He also argued the session was not properly advertised.
    Mikulak wanted to speak in the closed-door session "in an effort to deter (Kominski) ... from making disparaging remarks about (Mikulak) in his capacity as a magistrate district judge," court papers say.
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