Bachelors of Social Work, Temple University; Law degree from University of Baltimore
-Practiced in county courts for over 30 years - Honored as trailblazer for women in legal profession by the Montgomery Bar Association, the PA Bar Foundation, and Philadelphia Business Journal - Endorsed NOW, PSEA and Montco Building Trades
It is difficult to pick the most important quality. There are many qualities that are needed in a judge. They are to be hard working, well-prepared the ability to listen to and respect the participants, to be unbiased and guarantee the participants a level playing field. If I have to pick one then I would say the ability to listen. After years of practicing law before juries and judges, I have come to respect the ability of the judge to listen.
By definition, a judge must recuse themselves if there is a conflict of interest or an inability to be impartial. Judges must recognize their responsibility to evaluate each case clearly, without personal bias, and willing to step aside if they cannot act with complete impartiality.
A symbol of our legal system is Lady Justice. One of the attributes of Lady Justice is that she is blind. On the bench, Judges must ensure everyone has an equal opportunity, a level playing field and no biases of any kind. Off the bench, Judges can be involved, in a non-partisan way, to educate and support, all members of the community about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of Pennsylvania.
Princeton University, A.B., magna cum laude, 1975; Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1978
Highly Recommended (highest rating) by Montgomery Bar Association. Over 30 years courtroom experience in Montgomery County and Philadelphia. Chair, Business Litigation Comm., Phila. Bar Association, 2002. Pro Bono Roll of Honor, First Judicial Dist.
A judge must have the intellect and experience to understand the law in all its complexity, balanced with the empathy and judgment to understand that the law is not just a set of abstract principles and that a judge's decisions have real consequences. A judge must understand that to the parties before the court, no case is "routine" and each case is of critical importance and deserves to be treated as such. Each party must feel that he or she has gotten a full hearing and a fair shot.
I would recuse myself from a case whenever I have a relationship with a party that presents a conflict or an appearance of a conflict. No party to a lawsuit should ever be concerned that his or her adversary has a relationship with the judge that would prevent a fair and neutral decision or that could influence the judge's decision. Justice must be impartial and must be perceived as impartial.
On the bench, I would give every party a full and fair opportunity to be heard. All parties should have legal representation, but if a party is unable to obtain a lawyer, I would give that party the same respect and attention as a represented party. Off the bench, I would urge the strengthening of legal services organizations that provide legal counsel for people who cannot afford a lawyer. I would also work with the local Bar Association to expand programs for representation to the indigent.
Saint Joseph's University (BA English 1988)
Widener University Delaware Law School (JD cum laude 1991)
I am currently the only sitting judge running for the 2 open seats. I was unanimously appointed to the position by Gov Tom Wolf and the PA Senate. I have served as a judge for over a year and have efficiently handled cases in every division of the court.
A fair and even balanced temperment is key to a good judge. A judge needs to work hard and be efficient but he or she must control the courtroom with a tempered respect.
The Rules of Judicial Conduct govern the mandatory grounds for recusal. Obviously, if I were to have a familial or monetary connection to the litigants or attorneys, I would forthwith recuse. If for some reason, I felt I could not be completely fair in rendering a decision, I would recuse. However, it is incumbent upon a judge to hear the cases assigned when he or she is able to do so. A judge should not recuse for minor potential appearances of conflict, There is a duty to hear the case.
I have served on the bench for over a year at this point. In the family division, many of the litigants were pro se. Although I was unable to give legal advice, I took my time to patiently explain the process to the litigants. And I always assured them of a fair hearing. In the criminal division, I make sure on the record that the defendants are made completely aware of all of their rights. Through the local bar association, I have been involved with the Access To Justice Programs.