Local newspaper, the Abington Patch, contacted criminal defense attorney Theodore Swan for his reaction to the indefinite suspension of Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Karen Ricca. The suspension is without pay and without explanation. The county said only that it is a "confidential personnel matter."
Now a criminal defense attorney, Swan's early career included working on the other side of the aisle as a prosecutor while an assistant district attorney for the county. He said he was shocked at the recent news and only has praise and respect for the woman who has led the county's Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program for years. Swan reported that Ricca was always professional and efficient. He said he could always count on her to return phone calls in a timely manner, even with an extremely heavy caseload.
"In the small world of criminal defense ... we all know each other," Swan said. "Karen's been doing (ARD) for years and years. Karen has had a very successful and honorable career."
Ricca's job includes determining which applicants qualify for the ARD program. It allows non-violent first offenders to avoid a criminal record if they successfully complete their probation. Some charges that the ARD program deals with includes first-time DUI offenses or minor drug charges like small amounts of marijuana.
Swan said Ricca was always fair and willing to discuss his client's options and hear his concerns about a case. "Sometimes it worked and sometimes she said, 'No,'" Swan said. "Did I always agree with her? No."
While Swan recognized that a swift and immediate suspension without pay must accompany a serious infraction, Ricca's professional reputation and work ethic make it hard to understand.
The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania secretary said that no formal complaints had been filed against Ricca.
Source: abingtonpatch.com, "Montco Legal Community Reacts to ADA Suspension," Teresa McMinn, May 10, 2012