The state Supreme Court exercised a rarely used power Monday to intervene in Luzerne County juvenile cases to determine whether defendants were improperly sentenced to detention.

Federal charges allege that former Luzerne County Juvenile Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella and former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan took $2.6 million in kickbacks for sending juveniles to privately owned detention facilities. At the heart of the issue is whether the juveniles were informed of their right to an attorney.

The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia asked the Supreme Court in 2008 to use king's bench powers to identify every unrepresented juvenile adjudicated delinquent or placed under court supervision since Oct. 1, 2005. The court denied the petition. But after officials announced the federal charges and the judges entered into plea agreements, the center filed a new petition, which the court agreed to hear. Last week the high court suspended Ciavarella and Conahan.

- John Sullivann