Warrant issued for Harrisburg constable

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Another warrant has been issued for a Harrisburg constable while his wife, a district judge, battles a Pennsylvania Supreme Court lawsuit for not paying for constable services.

According to court documents, constable Michael Stewart was cited for parking his Toyota SUV near a fire hydrant on March 12. A summons for the $106.50 fine was issued in April and May of this year. After not paying the fine, representatives with District Judge Barbara Pianka’s office said an arrest warrant was issued and remained active as of Monday evening.

A minor traffic citation is small potatoes for most people who live in Harrisburg. However, some in the community alerted ABC 27 to the latest warrant and questioned how Stewart can continue to be a constable given this is not the first time a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

After he was removed from the bench in 1992 for ethics violations, Stewart in 1994 became a constable for his wife, District Justice Marsha Stewart. Earlier this month, Dauphin County ordered Judge Stewart to stop using her husband as a constable, citing nepotism. A senior judge told ABC 27 that Dauphin County’s judicial board was notified that the Stewarts did not follow a new state Code of Judicial Ethics law that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

According to the senior judge, Michael Stewart plans on fighting the order and believed he had since stopped working for his wife’s office. But he made it clear that it was not illegal for Stewart to work as a constable for other district justices in Harrisburg.

It’s unclear whether Stewart has performed constable services for Judge Pianka’s office where his current warrant was issued. The senior judge was unaware a warrant was issued for Michael Stewart. He declined to comment further.

ABC 27 made attempts to contact Mr. Stewart by phone and knocked on his door, but he did not answer.

In December, ABC 27 caught up with him after several unpaid fines from minor traffic citations and unpaid taxes sat in his wife’s office for several months. At the time he responded: “If they did, so what? What’s the beef?”

Stewart settled everything following the report.

A separate lawsuit filed against Judge Stewart was moved to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In December, several constables filed a lawsuit claiming Stewart owed them $76,000 for services. Attorney Brian Caffrey, who represents David Kneller, said Stewart owed his client roughly $9,000 for services over a two-year period. The lawsuit alleged that Stewart primarily only paid her husband for constable services.

At this time, Caffrey said a petition has been filed requesting the Supreme Court to remove Stewart’s legal counsel, attorney Geri St. Joseph, from the case. Caffrey said there is a conflict of interest because St. Joseph works for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and advises the state on legal decisions.

According to Supreme Court paperwork, Stewart’s co-counsel is Taylor Williams, who also works for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Caffrey said both sides are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide on this matter before the case moves forward.

Marsha Stewart was unavailable for comment.

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