PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The family of an assistant Allegheny County District Attorney confirms he is in critical condition after contracting COVID-19.
But after contracting the disease, KDKA has learned Russ Broman filed a complaint with OSHA and complained to friends and colleagues of dangerous conditions at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
Broman is in his 60s and suffering from COVID-19 but told friends and colleagues this did not have to happen. KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with one of those friends on Monday.
He’s a veteran prosecutor in the district attorney’s office who returned to work only to contract coronavirus. Now Assistant District Attorney Broman is in critical condition, fighting for his life in the ICU at St. Clair Hospital.
“He’s not responding to treatments and his condition is obviously very, very serious. And all of his colleagues in the defense bar, and I’m sure all of his colleagues in the district attorney’s office, are very concerned for him and we’re all rooting for him,” said Patrick Nightingale, a defense attorney.
Before going into the hospital, Broman filed a complaint against the Allegheny County court system with OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — and the family’s attorney directed KDKA’s Andy Sheehan to speak with Nightingale, one of several friends who Broman emailed, complaining of a lack for safety protocols in the courthouse and alleging that one judge, in particular, did not require masks in her courtroom.
“His message called into question court administration’s saying they’re doing everything possible to notify people who have been exposed, the masking guidelines were being strictly followed. It was, in my opinion, a plea for help and a cry for transparency,” said Nightingale.
Prior to the courts reopening the first week of June, President Judge Kim Berkley Clark ordered that all employees and judges wear masks. And after a court reporter tested positive, Clark sent out a letter on June 26 reaffirming that order.
“I have received reports that not everyone, including judges, is wearing a mask or face covering during court proceedings….Not wearing a mask is disrespectful and sends a message to the public and attorneys, that we care more about our personal comfort than we do about their safety. Failure to socially distance sends the same message,” Clark said in the letter.
The courts are now using teleconferencing whenever possible for hearings and trials, and Nightingale says their message seems to be getting across.
“We believe court administration, at the very least, is taking this more seriously now, but it should not have taken media intervention and social media posts to get to the point that the court administration was finally willing to take this seriously with the defense bar,” Nightingale said.