Honesdale council members found guilty; subpoena for judge quashed
October 8, 2013 —
Attorneys for both sides objected to the fact that the subpoena for Judge Ted Mikulak had been quashed, and that the judge would not be testifying during the proceeding. But testimony regarding a complaint lodged by the judge against the acting police chief of Honesdale, Ronald Kominski, was among the most interesting of the proceeding.
The hearing in Hawley on October 8 involved accusations against the seven members of the Honesdale Borough Council and whether they violated the sunshine law with their treatment of the complaint against Kominski.
According to the testimony of Honesdale Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, Mikulak had requested assistance from Kominski. Langendorfer testified, “The judge wanted Kominski to kick some tenant out of the house. Kominski said he can’t do that; they have 15 days to get out.”
The complaint came after that and also involved an officer, presumably Kominski, telling an 11-year-old child that the judge was “a liar” and the child repeating that information to the judge.
The attorney representing Kominski, Michael Lehutsky, attempted to solicit more information about the nature of the complaint lodged by the judge, but those attempts were blocked by the attorney representing the council members, Michael Genello. He argued that such questions were outside the scope of the proceeding.
Interestingly, however, there has been friction between Mikulak and the Honesdale Police Department dating back at least to March, when an administrative order was signed by President Judge Raymond Hammill transferring all Honsdale police legal matters out of Mikulak’s office and into the office of Judge Ron Edwards.
This case would normally have been heard by Mikulski, but because of his involvement, and because his brother is a member of the borough council, the case was transferred to Judge Bonnie Carney.
The question before her was whether the council members violated Kominski’s rights when they discussed Mikulak’s complaint at the August 12 borough meeting.
According to Lehutsky, because of the Sunshine Act, Kominski had a right to know in advance if a complaint about him was going to be discussed in executive session and he had a right to choose whether he wanted to have the matter discussed in open court or in executive session.
Because the executive session about Kominski was scheduled at the last minute, with at least some members unaware it was happening, Kominski was not informed about the complaint. He testified that had he known about it, he would have chosen to have the matter addressed publicly.