HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — At a sanction hearing in December, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board asked that former Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Placey be barred from serving as a judge in the future as a result of his misconduct in the courtroom. The Court of Judicial Discipline decided to issue a reprimand.

“A very good argument could be made that if we wanted to send a harsh message to other judges in a similar kind of situation a much different sanction should have been imposed,” Michael Dimino, Professor of Law at Widener Law Commonwealth said.

The Court of Judicial Discipline found that Placey violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Pennsylvania Constitution with his yelling outbursts in the courtroom. Those outbursts, which were on tape, were part of the evidence entered by the Judicial Conduct Board.

In its opinion, the Court of Judicial Discipline said several things impacted its decision including Judge Placey’s decision to resign from the bench while his case was making its way through the court and his “realization that he cannot serve as a judge in the future.”

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“In the court’s determination, it was not necessary to protect the people of Cumberland County from this judge anymore because he didn’t hold the position anymore,” Dimino said.

Is there a chance Placey could be a judge again?

“There is nothing in this decision that would stop him from being a judge again. When the court says that they recognize his realization that he cannot be a judge, I think what it is referring to is Placey’s own realization that he’s not capable of performing the functions of the job. Also, he would face substantial obstacles if he wanted to be a judge again. He would have to overcome not only the Court of Judicial Discipline {decision} but also the bad publicity that has arisen from his behavior,” Dimino said.

The Court of Judicial Discipline’s decision was good news for Tony Samento.

“There are no words to describe the way he screamed at me. It is like a madman going totally insane,” Tony Samento said.

Samento experienced Placey’s outbursts first hand when he was testifying during a hearing in 2017. Samento filed a complaint against Placey, which was used as evidence in the Judicial Conduct Board’s case against the former judge.

“I am very glad I filed a complaint. If I would not have done that I truly believe he would still be on the bench. He would still be doing exactly what he did to me to countless other people,” Samento said.

Samento says he still has concerns. Placey told the court he sought treatment in 2019 after he started having trouble sleeping and was experiencing absent-mindedness, avoidance issues, and mood swings. He said he found himself shaking on the bench and becoming increasingly overwhelmed and frustrated with certain litigants and attorneys which led to his outbursts. Placey has blamed his outbursts in the courtroom on a head injury he says he suffered playing college sports.

“If it happened in college then literally every decision he made, he made with a head injury,” said Samento. “Review every single case he ever ruled on.”

“I don’t know that all cases are going to be reviewed. Certainly, cases that are not yet final, cases that are still on appeal, can include a review of this issue as part of the appeal,” said Dimino. “As to whether the Superior Court or anybody else is going to be interested in opening final cases, cases that have been resolved, that is going to be a far more difficult matter.”

At his sanction hearing before the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline, Placey said he is still undergoing treatment. Placey’s attorney, Heidi Eakin, did not respond to our request for a comment.