Susquehanna County President Judge Jason Legg swore in a new county district attorney Monday morning, and it wasn’t be the man who had the job recently.
Legg swore in Marion O’Malley, said Stacey Witalec, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, in an email. O’Malley was Legg’s first assistant when he was district attorney.
Legg appointed O’Malley district attorney Jan. 5, but held off on swearing her in until the state Supreme Court ruled on whether William Urbanski should keep the job.
Urbanski, first assistant to former District Attorney Robert Klein, acted as district attorney after Klein’s death Dec. 27 and believes he should stay.
The Supreme Court refused Thursday to declare Urbanski the district attorney as he asked it to do, but allowed him to go back to county court and file a lawsuit to try to keep the job.
Urbanski planned to do that, but had not as of Friday.
Bruce Castor, Urbanski’s lawyer, said he has not determined if Urbanski will try to do the job after O’Malley is sworn in.
“It means potentially a big mess,” Castor said in an email. “This is all uncharted territory.”
Castor said swearing in O’Malley risks jeopardizing criminal cases she files if the Supreme Court later rules she is not district attorney.
But Matthew Haverstick, O’Malley’s lawyer, said Thursday that’s also true if the court rules Urbanski is not district attorney.
Two days after Klein died, Legg officially told Urbanski he could not be district attorney because he did not live in the county.
Urbanski, who contends he established a county residence Dec. 20, believes state law says he automatically inherits the job because he was first assistant.
He had a Luzerne County magisterial district judge swear him in on New Year’s Day.
Legg believes only first assistants who live in the county can inherit the job and doesn’t believe Urbanski actually lived in the county when Klein died.
Castor plans to file the lawsuit to get Urbanski the job permanently soon and ask for appointment of a judge from outside the county to decide the case. Whoever loses could appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
Legg was scheduled to administer the oath of office to O’Malley at 9 a.m. Monday in a county courtroom in Montrose.