Thursday, August 11, 2011

And Justice For All?

Usually I am a proponent of the justice system and following the rules of the courts, but there are some issues in Chester County that appear to be a miscarriage of that justice. A Downingtown resident had taken their dog to the vet in January and paid the bill with a check. The vet then later called and said that they had not paid the bill at all, however the resident took her bank statement to the vet and showed that the check was cashed and it was not returned. The resident, whom I shall call Paula, thought that that was the end of the issue, but it was not. In July of 2011 Paula was sent by regular mail with no specific return address an “Execution of Sale” where her belongings would be sold off to pay for a lawsuit that was brought against her for delinquency of payment. Paula never knew that the suit had been brought against her and when she went to the court (15-4-2 in Thorndale) to find out what needed to be done she was faced with an extremely rude court clerk who would offer no assistance other than to tell Paula she wasn’t going to argue and the fine needed to be paid. As Paula is a neighbor I have seen how she handles some situations so I offered to help so that possibly the problem could be solved and the anger she felt towards Downingtown could be managed. I asked Paula to tell me the story from start to finish leaving out no detail. The only other detail that seemed pertinent was the fact that service was made on her in March, but the service documents were not in her possession and the constable served Paula’s daughter. Paula has four children, the oldest is 14. The daughter that was allegedly served is 10. I did some research online and asked a legal expert if that was legal and he told us that Paula should file to vacate the suit because it was not good service. Paula and I even made a trip down to Legal Aid in West Chester to find out that they did not find it to be a pressing enough matter to help. Paula’s husband had been out of work since May on medical disability, they were having to negotiate rent with their landlord and they were facing an approximately $300 bill or their possessions would be sold, and it’s not a pressing matter. A very kind friend of Paula’s loaned her the money and she and I ventured down to court. The court clerk again was rude and downright nasty until Paula said to stop the sale she would pay the money. Paula paid what she was told, got a receipt saying paid in full and copies of the documents along with the name of the constable (John Ross) who allegedly served Paula’s 10 year old daughter. Funds have been very tight for Paula and her family and she is unable to afford legal counsel to fight this injustice, but now the plot thickens. Today Paula was called by the rude clerk and told that there was a clerical error and that she owed an additional $150. It was suggested that Paula call and ask to see the Judge who made the initial ruling. My husband and myself went with Paula since we felt she was being unfairly treated by a system that is supposed to be just. Judge Jeffrey Valocchi appeared and told Paula that she had to pay the additional $150 because it was a clerical error and if she had gone into a retail store and purchased an item that was listed for $200 dollars and the clerk told her it was $150 she didn’t get the item for $150 she had to pay the $200. My husband and I were sitting off to the side quietly and I will admit to frowning trying to understand his meaning, when the judge looked at me and asked, “Are you a lawyer?” I responded with , “No and I haven’t said anything.” Judge Valocchi stated, “No you haven’t but you will not react in my court!” The judge told Paula that it was his court and he could do what he wanted and she had to pay. The only time he showed any type of humanity was when Paula said that she needed back surgery. The judge then offered her six months to pay the $150 and her things would not be sold.

Granted Paula now has six months to either come up with the additional money or appeal, but how in the world did it get to this point if the people issuing the court orders were actually looking at what they were affixing their signature? How is it legal to serve a 10 year old? How is it a way to help the public handle their legal issues if the clerks speak in a tone that is disrespectful and rude? Judge Valocchi is up for re-election and the constables in your area are elected in also. You might want to double check who you are voting for and how they handle due process before you pull the lever in November.


  1. WOW!!

    The analogy the Judge gave was CRAP. If I go to a store and they sell me an item for 200.00 I pay for it, get a reciept, and leave the store, there is no way they can call me at my home and demand i pay 300.00 for the item later, because the clerk made a mistake. If they took me to court i would win, based on a reciept of sale that says i paid for the item. The judge would tell the business that they were at fault. I will make sure to watch which lever i pull on election day. That court clerk needs an atitude adjustment as well. God forbid she ever has to go through that.

  2. When Paula called to get the exact paperwork for the additional fine, the clerk, said that if Paula did not just pay the balance she would be fined an additional $500 for being a nuisance.

  3. The whole story is frightening!
    Paula may still have time to request a copy of the check - front and back - she'd written out to the vet. Then she should...well...I'm not sure now. Should be bring it to the vet and then to Arse Valocchi's court and demand her money back? ...her friend's money...

    If the constable is required by law to serve papers to the person listed, then the constable who handed the papers to Paula's 10-year-old daughter, then HE she be fired for not doing his job. He should also be - I think - held responsible for the fiasco that occurred after that.
    As the online lawyer stated:
    "Paula should file to vacate the suit because it was not good service."

    Legal in Legal Aid of Southeast Pennsylvania?
    It would seem appropriate for Legal Aid to help Paula with this problem.

    Nice..."Can't afford a lawyer? LASP may be able to help you with your legal problems free of charge."
    Their 'mission' doesn't ring true.

    "Our mission: To provide quality legal representation to low-income and vulnerable people in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County, to empower them to solve problems without legal representation through legal education and increased access to the courts, and to change community practices and systems that cause or aggravate poverty."

    Maybe you didn't go to this 'Legal Aid' firm.
    But whomever you did see, the boss should be told about the rude attitude you received. I mean, who is paying them to sit on their duffs and not helping those who enter their office?

    There are other pro bono lawyers in the area that may be able to help.

    Now, Valocchi and the Thorndale Court clerks.
    hmm...makes sense that a rude judge would have rude clerks,right?

    The clerks are in public service jobs. They are there to help people - or should be able to. The clerks attitude was wrong, her answers to Paula's questions were inappropriate...and may have been untrue.

    Valocchi's rudeness and statements also seem inappropriate. "This is my court..." and everyone there must stay absolutely ...without any showing of emotions. How absurd is that!
    And the little story about buying an item is a store is also very wrong. If the store clerk makes a mistake at the register and it's not seen until days after the sale, the mistake is on the clerk, not the customer.

    You wrote: The judge told Paula that it was his court and he could do what he wanted and she had to pay.

    I don't think that's true. Even an Arse sitting as a district court judge, must follow the same rules of court.

    If the clerk did make a mistake and forgot to add $150 to the initial charge, Paula should request and receive the paperwork that shows the true amount she was charged. I would think that if the court could not produce the necessary paperwork, then maybe she doesn't owe the extra...

    wait a second... She should not have had to pay the court anything. Paula should ask her bank for a copy of the check (both sides) used to pay the vet.

    And I really REALLY think her story should be told to the DLN....after she has a copy of the vet check in her hands.

  4. Would someone please inform Judge Valocchi that it is not "his court", it is, in fact, OUR court.

    If he does not understand that, he will be shown the door.

    Until we get rid of these arrogant a-hole public officials who forget for whom they work the minute they take office, there is no hope for this country.

    Since I have personally witnessed the arrogance and rudeness of these district kangaroo courts, I sympathize. These 'justice' positions often attract none-too-bright lawyers and ex-cops.


  5. Paula does have a copy of the check that was written to the vet and the fact that it was cashed, but because she did not know she was being sued she had no chance to show anyone her evidence. Yes it was Legal Aid of Southern Chester County, they have an office in West Chester.

    I did email several news stations and 3 On Yuor Side Called me back but we are now playing phone tag. This is not going to be let go.

  6. You wrote: The judge told Paula that it was his court and he could do what he wanted and she had to pay.

    I don't think that's true. Even an Arse sitting as a district court judge, must follow the same rules of court.

    Believe it or not that is what was said i was sitting right there. It was so horrible. There was nothing given to Paula to justify the extra amount at all. besides the fact that the vet bill was paid and she had a copy of the check from her bank!!!! It was and is so wrong. How can you help but not show emotion when you see something that WRONG.

    If the "honorable" judge vallocci is readin this .. do not get too comfortable in that fancy chair as you will be voted out if i can do anything about it. i do not even live in your district and i will do my best to campaign against you.

  7. To the last 'anonymous' commenter.

    Thank you for writing.

    Since you were there in Thorndale Court, and you are confirming all what Elaine explained,
    you may want to contact Elaine, be a witness if it is necessary.
    Anonymous #2

  8. It appears that the investigative news people do not want to touch this story as it is "heresay". Really? How is it heresay when it is illegal to serve a 10 year old (and even if it had been Paula's older two daughters they are still only 14 and 12)? How is it heresay that the suit would not have been able to go forward if Paula had been truly been served herself as she has a copy of the cancelled check from the bank? These people are abusing a system that is supposed to protect people and they are getting away with it.

  9. Anonymous #2

    I will be more then happy to be a witness and Elaine knows who I am. Bring it!!