Ruling: No transfer for ex-judge Arnold
WEST CHESTER >> The Common Pleas judge overseeing the case against former Downingtown Magisterial District Judge Rita Jo Arnold has denied her request to serve her 16-month jail sentence in Chester County Prison.
Without comment, Senior Judge John Braxton of Philadelphia rejected the request for a hearing on the motion of Arnold to be transferred from
her current incarceration at a state prison to the county, where she could better receive medical care.
The order was dated Sept. 8. It was filed Monday.
Arnold’s latest attorney, Sam Stretton of West Chester, had made the request earlier this month. At the time, he said he was hopeful that Braxton would grant him a hearing, but said he realized the matter was completely at the judge’s discretion. Braxton had ruled against Arnold’s various motions to reduce or throw out her sentencing on more than one occasion.
Arnold’s oncologist, Dr. Cheryl Johnson of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a letter attached to the motion that Arnold, although
she completed chemotherapy treatment for her cancer in January 2015, continues to need interval followup checks every six months.
Her family physician, Dr. Bruce Colley of Downingtown, has said that if she is removed from her current medical care, Arnold will develop complications that, “with time, will lead to serious deterioration of her health and an untimely death.” She suffers not only from breast cancer but also diabetes, lymphedema, retinopathy, and neuropathy.
Arnold pleaded guilty in 2013 to charges of tampering with records and obstruction of justice. The case stemmed from her actions to cover up a summary citation that had been issued by state police from Embreeville against her son, Forrest Solomon Jr., after a fight that occurred at her home in West Bradford.
Braxton, in imposing a sentence of 16 to 32 months in state prison in the case, deviated strongly from state sentencing guidelines, which had called for a standard sentence of between probation and three months in jail for a person like Arnold with no prior criminal record. Braxton said at the time that he was sending her to state prison because of the dishonor she brought to the bench, since she committed the crimes in her position as a magisterial court judge.