1. What is your overall judicial philosophy?
I decide each case on it own merits according to the rule of law. I defer to the Legislature when it is appropriate to do so. I accord proper deference to precedent. I take my role as an appellate judge very seriously and consider myself to be a guardian of the Constitution.
As our individual rights and liberties are placed in jeopardy by our federal government, the role of our State Supreme Courts has become even more critical to ensure the protections which are Constitutionally guaranteed, including the right to privacy.
2. Which United State Supreme Court Justice, past or present, would you compare your judicial philosophy to?
My role model was the late William Brennan, Jr., Just of the U.S. Supreme Court who is widely regarded as the architect of our civil liberties.
3. Why are you qualified for this position?
I have over twenty-five years of legal and judicial experience, and I am the only candidate in this race to have earned the L.LM post-doctoral degree in the Judicial Process.
I was rated "Highly Recommended" to serve on the Supreme Court by both the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Allegheny Bar Association. The Pennsylvania Bar Association stated that I have "the intellectual ability, personal integrity, strong sense of fairness, and diverse practical and academic experience to serve with distinction on the highest court."
4. What improvements do yo believe could be made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state court system?
The judiciary needs to take affirmative steps to improves its image in the eye of the public, thus restoring trust in the judicial branch of our government.
Just as education is the answer to the challenges facing our Commonwealth's children, it is the answer for most of the challenges facing the Pennsylvania Judiciary. By that, I mean not only educating the members of the judiciary regarding establishing or maintaining a real connection and presence with the public (within the boundaries of the Judicial Code) but also re-educating the public in the fundamental lessons of civics and the roles and limitations of the separate branches of government.
I favor televising Pennsylvania Supreme Court proceedings much as we televise our Superior Court En Banc proceedings on PCN. I believe this is a genuine public service which helps to educate the public and enhance the public image of both lawyers and judges.
5. Do you believe that all citizens have adequate access to legal help and the legal system? If not, what can be done to provide wider and better access?
Public access to the courts is an area which is under constant study by the Pennsylvania Bench and Bar and, indeed, is in need of improvement. A particular segment of society with which I am involved and concerned is our Commonwealth's children. I have conducted extensive research on the subject of child abuse, and published an article in the Penn State (Dickinson School of Law) Law Review: "Sentencing of Adult Offenders in Cases Involving Sexual Abuse of Children: Too Little, Too Late? A View from the Pennsylvania Bench," 109 Penn State L. Rev. 487 (2004).
Our Commonwealth's children deserve to feel safe and secure, particularly in their own homes. They deserve the carefree days of youth. Those of us whose decisions affect the criminal justice system, and whose voices can be heard, must be vigilant in protecting these children, the most vulnerable among us. Our children are entitled to nothing less.