WEST CHESTER Rita Arnold will not be required to report to prison or post $1 million bail Friday, allowing the former Chester County district judge to continue receiving chemotherapy under the care of her current doctors.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, a Superior Court judge set aside, at least temporarily, an order last week that Arnold, 57, must post the higher bail or surrender to begin serving 16 to 32 months for concealing a citation filed against her son.
The unnamed judge also gave Arnold's sentencing judge, Senior Judge John Braxton, three weeks to explain why he increased her bail last week from the $100,000 she posted in October.
At the Dec. 17 hearing, Braxton gave no reason for increasing the bail, saying only that he thought $1 million was a "reasonable" amount. He told Arnold to post it or go to the state prison at Muncy by Friday.
Arnold's attorney, Heidi Eakin, in a petition called Braxton's move "vindictive." She said state law allows bail to be used to assure a person will appear in court, not to punish.
She said Arnold, who served as a judge for 19 years, had complied with all of the bail terms since they were set two months ago and is not a flight risk. Arnold is being treated for a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
"As we speak, she is undergoing chemo," Eakin said Thursday afternoon. "She's got an eight-hour chemo treatment today, which is the longest one she's had so far. Tomorrow, she has shot therapy."
Braxton does not have a permanent court office and could not be reached for comment.
Braxton rejected calls for leniency in the case, and imposed a sentence that far exceeds maximum-sentencing recommendations for Arnold's crimes, which are misdemeanors, as well as sentences given to several other Pennsylvania district judges in criminal cases.