Former Pennsylvania Judge Michael Joyce Faces Criminal Fraud Trial

The trial of former Superior Court Judge, Michael T. Joyce, on criminal fraud is now set but will be held in Pittsburgh in a venue change. The case, involving claims of false insurance claims, presents an interesting intersection between torts and criminal law — as well as judicial ethics.

Presiding judge Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr. agreed that the publicity surrounded the trial could taint the jury pool and moved the trial to Pittsburgh. The prosecution will focus on actions taken before and after the August 2001 slow-speed collision that Joyce said left him severely injured. The accident brought Joyce $440,000 in an insurance settlement.

The case is likely to bring out some rather bizarre elements, such as the fact that Joyce was basically living in his chambers before the accident after breaking up with his girlfriend and telling his landlord that he could only afford $100 a month in rent.

After the accident, however, the prosecution alleges that Joyce went on a spending spree buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a plane, a house and a hot tub, and spending $6,000 for cosmetic surgery for his girlfriend. The prosecutors will also show that Joyce went in-line skating at Presque Isle State Park on Sept. 2, 2002, while his insurance claims claimed that he was severely injured with debilitating neck and back injuries.

Erie Insurance settled Joyce’s claim within three months and most notably never demanded an independent medical examination.

The case will also involve a claim of being an “eggshell thin skull” claimant — saying that, while the accident was at a low speed, he was susceptible to severe because he had undergone cervical-fusion surgery in 1992. It could be a stretch since the accident occurred at the not-so-break-neck speed of 5 miles an hour.

The government was barred from introducing evidence of a May 2003 crash at between 25 and 30 mph when Joyce walked away unharmed to rebut the eggshell claim. The judge however said that the evidence was irrelevant.

Some of the claims made by Joyce were allegedly contained on judicial letterhead — a violation of basic rules of ethics. He had been suspended after the indictment before he resigned.

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9 thoughts on “Former Pennsylvania Judge Michael Joyce Faces Criminal Fraud Trial

  1. This guy is a real winner. Inline skating after claiming he was disabled? What was he thinking?? I think he needs some time away where he can do some serious reflection of his actions. I am sure that his fellow residents would welcome a former judge into their cell.

  2. rafflaw –

    This guy and the judge suing for $65 million for his missing pants need a long time out in a very small cell.

  3. Hey, Jonathan. Just saw your interview on R. Maddow’s show. You might want to look up the difference between “historic” (what you meant to say) and “historical” (what you did say).

    Oh, and Washington is “literally floating on” whatever it’s floating on? No. Not “literally.” Figuratively, maybe. But the word “literally” does should not be used merely for emphasis. It has A meAning. Look it up.

  4. Oh Come On. Jonathon doesn’t need to look up the diff between historic and historical ;P

    Mr. Turley you’re one of my fav commentators!! Keep up the good work! I’d write a long post, but I’m exhausted from canvassing all day to fight this Prop8 BS. Anyway, I’m also trying to raise money for Democrat Josh Segall for Congress in Alabama. Read more at my blog and please contribute $10.08 or some variation, and join this last minute push for another Red to Blue conversion!! $220 Raised tonight already!! Love you, bless all!

    http://www.actblue.com/page/joshsegalldailykos
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/10/18/03512/575/419/634183

  5. Isoruku:

    Since we have embarked on a campaign of precision, it is worth knowing that while DC is not floating on anything it’s origins tell us that it indeed was subject to “tidal fluctuations and seasonal flooding. In the early development of the city the draining of lowlands was not a priority. After deforestation and the cessation of farming, as the city developed the danger of inadequate drainage, especially around poorly executed building projects, became more apparent. However, the development of extensive mud flats and marshes came later in the 19th century caused primarily by the increased sediment carried by the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers due to increased settlement and farming upstream.”

    Thus, while Washington may be literally resting on bedrock, its geology, like its politics, is anything but stable.

    By the way, don’t you have anything better to do than parse words oh maven of English!

  6. This Judge Michael T. Joyce is a real A-hole and he needs to be in jail for a long time (10 years). This is the same judge that turned down my brother’s cases and the whole time this A-hole was breaking the law himself. Every person that Judge Joyce turned down should be looked at again or over turned. How anyone can believe anything this A-hole utters out of his mouth when his integrity is shot.

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