Those of you that follow the case of missing Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar know the name of another district attorney, Robert W. Buehner, Jr. of Montour County. Mr. Buehner was a friend of Mr. Gricar and has been a friend to the case, pushing the investigation to one of its turning points, and giving it one of its memorable moments, the “Dueling Press Conferences” of July 2008.1 Well, after serving as the District Attorney of Montour County for just under twenty years, and serving as the former president of Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association2, he will not be seeking re-election.
I’m sorry to see that, but I understand. He was not only a friend to the Mr. Gricar, and the investigation, but to me as well. It was after the “Dueling Press Conference,” a term that he coined, that I wrote him. I’d never met him before; he was kind enough to respond and we’ve struck up a friendship. As indicated, I even stopped to see him and he took me to Lewisburg; he did not have to do that. We do not agree on all points, but we approach the disappearance from different standpoints. We both want to see the Gricar case solved, and if that means weakening our own arguments, we will. I am hopeful that while he is leaving office, his commitment to the case will still be there.
It took guts to stand up to then Attorney General Tom Corbett; it took guts to resign from the PDAA after their farcical press conference trying to defend Mr. Madeira, especially being a past president of the group. In leaving of office, Mr. Buehner should similar guts.
About two years ago, Mr. Buehner filed a complaint against the President Judge of his two county judicial district, Scott W. Naus. The complaints dealt with Judge Naus conduct on the bench. They were alleged breaches of judicial canons, not any claim of criminal activity on the judge’s part. Judge Naus, resigned, losing a salary of more than $160,000 and his pension. When asked by a reporter of the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise, the attorney for the former judge to release a transcript of the hearing, he refused. As an editorial in that paper said, “These are not the actions of a man who has nothing to fear from the truth.”3
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That editorial also noted that Mr. Buehner was alone in pursuing charges. The district in the other county in the district made it clear that he did not file the charges; the sole other judge on the bench, Thomas A. James, declined to respond initially. Judge James only responded when former Judge Naus attorney accused them of being involved in a conspiracy, saying, ““Many people in the court system spoke out against
(Naus’s) conduct. They showed great character and integrity knowing it could jeopardize their careers. They knew they were doing the right thing and should be commended for their courage.”
It was Mr. Buehner that took the initiative, and a great deal of professional and political risk, to file the charges. I lived in Cambria County during the Judge Joseph O’Kicki investigation and trial, and never saw anyone with that level of commitment.
The Bloomsburg Press Enterprise continued:
But now that Buehner’s indictment of Naus has been independently validated, the Montour DA deserves the thanks of his fellow citizens for daring to say aloud what others would only whisper, that Naus’s behavior made him unfit to remain on the bench.
That took more than guts, but I don’t think I can use that word in a “family” blog.
Robert W. Buehner, Jr., has been a dedicated public servant for 20 years, this is but an example of his dedication. He didn’t do this to make any political points (though I will admit to encouraging him to run for a judicial position himself). He did it because it was right. Like I said, you will find daylight between us on many points, but I deeply respect the man and what he’s done, both in the Gricar case and in his public life.
Mr. Buehner has indicated that he plans to do charity work in his retirement; nonprofits is something we have in common. I hope that, but the time he leaves public office, the Gricar case is solved. If not, I hope he continues with his good work in pursuing a solution.
3 Bloomsburg Press Enterprise, 2/9/11, p. 11
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com