O’Dell Seneca seeks to avoid testifying in Pozonsky matter

May 23, 2014
Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca

Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca filed a motion Friday to quash a subpoena ordering her to testify in a suppression hearing for former Washington County judge Paul Pozonsky. In the same motion, she also requested an order protecting her from being subpoenaed again in the case.

The motion was filed in the Washington County Courthouse and will be presented to Senior Bedford County Judge Daniel Lee Howsare, who is presiding over the case, for a decision.

O’Dell Seneca was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday in regard to an administrative order she prepared in May 2012 that allowed investigators to seize evidence from Pozonsky’s courtroom. Pozonsky’s defense attorney, Robert Del Greco Jr., is arguing that anything taken from the judge’s office during the May 2012 search should not be allowed as evidence in Pozonsky’s upcoming trial on charges of misapplying evidence.

Pozonsky, 58, who is now living near Anchorage, Alaska, is accused of stealing cocaine evidence while presiding over several criminal cases. He was charged a year ago with conflict of interest, theft, obstruction of justice, possession of a controlled substance and misapplying entrusted government property.

Because of a previously scheduled vacation, O’Dell Seneca was unavailable to testify this week. Howsare left the record open, pending her possible testimony.

In her motion, prepared by Caroline Liebenguth, an attorney with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the president judge argues “judicial officers are immune from testifying as to information surrounding their conduct during an official proceeding,” according to court documents. Therefore, she argues, the examination of a judge’s decision-making process is a “prohibited area of injury,” court documents state.

Court records show that an argument on the motion is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 6

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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