Bucks County nonprofit enters Centre County courthouse lawsuit drama

A Bucks County-based nonprofit corporation is asking to be allowed to intervene in the lawsuits brought against Centre County and attorneys by county judges.

Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, based out of Yardley, made filings Wednesday in Centre County Court asking that a judge dismiss the complaints of Common Pleas Judge Jonathan D. Grine and District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker against the county.

According to the filing, the organization made Right-to-Know requests to the county on March 24 asking for the same cellphone records the county released to co-defendants in each suit, attorneys from the Harrisburg-based McShane Group in the and State College-based Law Office of Andrew Shubin in the Gillette-Walker suit.

The county denied those requests because of an injunction placed on any further release of such records by Centre County Senior Judge Charles C. Brown Jr. in March, according to the filing. Audrey Buglione, attorney for the nonprofit, argues in the filing that they have a “substantial, direct and immediate” interest in the litigation in Centre County because they frequently requests records using the law, and the current injunction and a ruling in favor of Grine and Gillette-Walker would deprive them of their statutory right to request records and appeal any denials of requests.

The lawsuits were first filed in March. Grine and Gillette-Walker argue that the county illegally released cellphone records to attorneys that filed Right-to-Know requests. They are seeking the destruction of all copies of the released records and that the court order the county be prohibited from any further disclosures. The county position is that because the records were pulled from itemized Verizon phone bills, they were financial in nature and subject to disclosure under the law.

Both sides are awaiting a ruling in the cases by Huntingdon County Senior Judge Stewart Kurtz after a hearing on April 2. A hearing in a similar lawsuit filed agains the county by District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller is scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 13 at the Courthouse Annex in Bellefonte.