Widener U. School of Law, J.D. cum laude 1994, University of Arizona, B.A. 1991
I am honored to be the only candidate in the race for Commonwealth Court that is rated "Highly Recommended" for a seat on the PA Commonwealth Court by the Pennsylvania Bar Assoc. Judicial Evaluation Commission. My 23 years of experience as a judge, attorney, public official, community leader, and special prosecutor have uniquely prepared me for the position on this Court. I am currently the head of the civil division of the Court of Common Pleas where I have closed over 1500 civil matters.
I believe intellect, integrity, humility and temperament are important qualities for effective judges. As head of the court's Civil Trial Section, I listen and consider all sides of each matter before me with impartiality. A courtroom experience is often a rare and difficult experience for litigants. With this in mind, I apply a high level of courtesy and patience in the courtroom, which I believe can positively affect the level of trust and comfort that a litigant has in our justice system.
It is important not only that a judge approach each case with an open mind and complete impartiality, but also that a judge avoid even the appearance of impropriety or partiality, which could undermine the public's confidence in the judiciary. I abide by the rules of judicial conduct which note that a "judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned."
As a judge, I cannot advocate for or against specific legislation on the state level, however, I believe that everyone should have access to the justice system. I worked as a special prosecutor representing individuals who could not afford an attorney in presenting their cases before the court. In addition, I ensure that equal access to justice exists in my courtroom where I treat everyone I encounter fairly, impartially and equally, including litigants, attorneys, staff and the public.
Montgomery County Community College (Associates Degree 1977) Temple University (BA 1979); Temple University School of Law (JD 1986)
I have been a Common Pleas Court judge for ten years, handled over a thousand bench and jury trials, decided thousands of legal motions, written close to 700 Opinions, and presided in an appellate capacity handling precisely the types of governmental agency appeals that the Commonwealth Court handles. Recommended by PA. Bar Association who, after a thorough and independent investigation, determined my judicial reputation and record is one of "fairness, thoroughness, independence, and integrity
A judge must possess the utmost integrity and independence. A judge must approach every case, and every litigant, in an impartial, unbiased, and respectful manner. A judge must give every case the full, careful, and thorough consideration every case deserves before rendering a decision. And finally, a judge must be timely and prepared in all areas of responsibility.
I am well versed in the Judicial Canon of Ethics. I would absolutely recuse myself from any matter in which I could not be completely fair and impartial.
I conduct my personal and professional life in such a manner as to avoid potential conflicts. I have recused myself once in ten years based on a close relationship with a character witness in the case.
I have frequently presided over matters involving unrepresented litigants. I always treat these individuals with the same respect as I would attorneys. I carefully consider all of their issues, pleadings, and arguments, and, to the best of my ability, provide the time and patience necessary to put unrepresented parties at ease by fully explaining the process.
Judges should participate in appropriate community outreach programs to help citizens understand our judiciary.
1982-Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania-B.S., 1988-CUNY Law School, J.D., 1999-McGregor School of Antioch University, M.A./Conflict Resolution
Judge-Pittsburgh Municipal Court-1993-2003; Public Interest Attorney-preventing and addressing blighted and abandoned real estate, training and educating on laws we have, drafting of and advocating for laws we need, implementing new laws, representing inaugural PA land banks-2003-present.
The capacity to be reflective is the most important quality in a jurist. It describes being thoughtful and contemplative. The teaching mantra of my public interest law school was “plan, do, reflect”. It instilled regular historical review of my place in and contributions to social justice as a lawyer and former judge. Just as the moon reflects only the light of the sun, a good jurist’s character, conduct and standards reflect only the highest values and aspirations of our system of democracy.
I did not recuse myself from any case during ten years of judicial service on the Pittsburgh Municipal Court. Although I cannot anticipate circumstances under which I would recuse, I will always adhere to judicial conduct rules. I will continuously reflect on my impartiality from an objective point of view, readily disclose relevant information and be guided by Formal Advisory Opinion 2015-4 of the Judicial Ethics Committee of the PA Conference of State Trial Judges.
My record demonstrates commitment to social justice as a public interest attorney and to quality court administration as a former judge. As an appellate judge, I will do my part to eliminate the ‘justice gap’. On the bench, I will review trial judges’ use of existing authority to appoint counsel for litigants. Off the bench, I will join and advance the state and national Civil Gideon movement and persevere for systems’ change needed for PA to achieve a record of excellence on access to justice.
"Dickinson School of Law -- J.D. 1996
University of Pennsylvania -- B.A. 1993"
I am highly recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association for Commonwealth Court and have twice been recommended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association for the Commonwealth Court. I am a former Pennsylvania Supreme Court law clerk and a successful appellate litigator.
Fairness to the parties is the most important quality in a judge. It means treating parties with courtesy, respect, patience, and an open-minded willingness to listen to their positions and allow them to have their say.
I would recuse myself from any case where the Code of Judicial Conduct requires my recusal, or in any case where, after serious reflection, I would find that I could not give impartial consideration to a party's cause for whatever reason.
Supporting the efforts of the ACBA and the PBA to ensure the provision of effective legal services to all members of our society, regardless of their means, is what I would continue to do if I am elected to the Commonwealth Court.