The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 16, 2014

Blair seeks outside judge for lawsuit

Ebensburg lawyer suing over injuries

The Tribune-Democrat

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County court officials are asking the state Supreme Court to assign an out-of-county judge to preside over the civil lawsuit filed late last year by Ebensburg lawyer Timothy Burns.

Burns, who was acting on behalf of Blair County in representing death row inmate Andre Staton, was punched in the face by Staton at the conclusion of a post-conviction hearing in May.

Through his attorney, Robert Petyak of Ebensburg, Burns is seeking financial damages because he was forced to suspend his law practice for several months after suffering a severe brain concussion from the assault.

He has returned to work on a limited basis.

Blair officials have denied Burns’ claim for financial compensation, saying he was not a county employee at the time of the assault.

Named in the lawsuit are the county commissioners, sheriff, three deputies and others because, Petyak claims, proper protection was not provided for Burns.

Attorneys for the county are asking that the lawsuit be dismissed because the county has immunity, except in limited circumstances.