Appeals judge reduces Arnold's bail to $100,000

Posted: January 19, 2014

DOWNINGTOWN A Pennsylvania appeals court on Friday vacated the $1 million bail set for former Chester County District Judge Rita Arnold.

Judge John Braxton had defended his decision to hike Arnold's bail in an opinion filed last week, saying it was not excessive despite being 10 times what he imposed earlier in her case.

An unnamed Superior Court judge disagreed and reduced Arnold's bail to the $100,000 she posted in October.

The decision will allow Arnold, convicted of concealing a citation filed against her son, to remain free while she appeals the sentence of 16 to 32 months imposed by Braxton.

The sentence far exceeds the maximum sentencing guidelines for Arnold's crimes, misdemeanors of obstructing justice and tampering.

Arnold has sought to put off her sentence while undergoing treatments for breast cancer.

"We're gratified that the Superior Court has overturned the obscenely high bail order of $1 million and that Rita Arnold may continue to be treated for the aggressive form of breast cancer by her own physicians while she appeals the excessive prison sentence," Nicholas Ressetar, chief law clerk at the firm representing Arnold, said in an e-mail.

In an opinion that he was ordered to write by the appeals court, Braxton did not clarify why he increased Arnold's bail other than to say the new amount was not excessive because her appeal is unlikely to succeed and she can receive adequate medical treatment in prison.

Braxton, a traveling judge formerly assigned to Philadelphia, also said the higher bail would not be a financial burden for her.

Braxton imposed the $1 million bail at a December hearing during which he also denied Arnold's request for a lighter sentence, ordering her to pay the new amount or resume serving her term at the state prison in Muncy.

610-313-8205 @TriciaNadolny

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