Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille has hired a longtime adviser and colleague to conduct what he said would be an independent investigation of a troubled Family Court project in Center City.
William G. Chadwick, a lawyer who worked as Castille's top deputy in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office in the 1980s, was hired to do a "thorough, independent, and objective" review of the project, now terminated, for construction of a Family Court building at 15th and Arch Streets.
Castille, who supervised the project closely for three years, chose the site for the $200 million building and authorized the courts to begin paying fees to lawyer Jeffrey B. Rotwitt and developer Donald Pulver.
Castille terminated the deal May 26 after The Inquirer reported that Rotwitt, hired as the court's real-estate attorney, was also being paid as Pulver's partner.
Chadwick will replace lawyer Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., a former federal prosecutor and partner at the Ballard Spahr law firm who has been working for Castille in recent weeks to determine how $12 million in public funds had been spent on the project.
Hockeimer's role has drawn criticism from Pulver's attorneys, who have noted that Hockeimer's firm has been working for Castille on the project since 2008.
"We certainly did not feel there was any conflict, but the questions that had been raised caused a distraction from where the focus of this inquiry should be - on the spending of public funds and the relationship between Mssrs. Rotwitt and Pulver," Hockeimer wrote in an e-mailed statement.
Hockeimer said the public and the courts would be better served if someone else handled the inquiry - "including cooperation with relevant law enforcement."
The FBI also has opened an investigation into the Family Court deal. Since its termination, the state has assumed responsibility for building the court facility.
In choosing Chadwick to perform that assessment, Castille picked a man he has known for decades. When Castille was Philadelphia's district attorney, Chadwick was first assistant deputy attorney from 1985 to 1991.
Chadwick now runs a Washington-based consulting firm, specializing in advising corporations on security issues, including fraud.
Castille this year also gave Chadwick a $150,000 contract to find ways to improve the performance of Philadelphia courts, which have one of the lowest conviction rates among major cities.
Castille and his spokesman announced the Chadwick contract in an e-mail Tuesday evening. Castille did not say how much Chadwick would be paid.
Chadwick said Tuesday night he would figure out what went wrong in the deal even if his examination found mistakes by Castille. "I told him going into it I am not going to pull punches," Chadwick said. "My whole practice depends on operating ethically and transparently."
Castille could not be reached for comment. He said in his statement he wanted Chadwick to develop a chronology of events, including an examination of any conflicts of interest and "misrepresentations by any parties that resulted in losses to the court."
Castille said the examination would help "restore public confidence" in the Family Court project.
Hockeimer has been trying to get answers about Rotwitt's role and about the $12 million. Pulver's lawyers have promised a response but have yet to provide the information Hockeimer was seeking. But they have suggested that someone should be investigating Ballard, which has been paid nearly $500,000.
Castille said he never knew Rotwitt had a deal with Pulver. But Rotwitt said his role as co-developer was widely known, by Castille and others, and said the chief justice never raised concerns until The Inquirer started asking about it.