"Do I look fat in this black robe?"
As many as three people may be asking that question next year. There might be three judicial vacancies. One vacancy exists right now, caused by Judge Freedberg's ascension to the heavens of superior court. A second vacancy will occur next year, when Judge Moran steps down and becomes a mortal again. And the state legislature may actually create a ninth judgeship in Northampton County. That's so we can keep up with Lehigh. County council adopted a resolution asking for a ninth judge on April 3.
So who will be appointed to Freedberg's vacancy? I'm told the fix is in. Leonard Zito, currently doing an outstanding job as Northampton County Council Solicitor, is going to be appointed. He will also be permitted to run for the job. Lenny impressed a lot of people during his previous brief tenure as an appointed judge, including me. Zito will have no problem being elected to the position.
But who will fill the other two slots? Here are the names I've heard so far.
Karl Longenbach - he currently serves as Northampton County's Solicitor and before that, he represented Northampton County Council. He and I actually graduated from law school together and he has always demonstrated himself as perhaps the most even-keeled person I've ever met. When he ran for judge a few years ago, I took it upon myself to campaign for him. I strapped "Longenbach for Judge" signs to my back and began riding my bicycle all over the county, annoying driver after driver. Karl narrowly lost. Exit polls indicate voters were all set to vote for him until confronted by a lunatic on a bike.
Sam Murray - a Master in custody cases, he also has a big private practice. Sam is a product of Easton's south side and is certainly is one of the hardest-working attorneys I've ever seen. He really cares about the people he represents, returning every call. In addition to that, he's extremely bright. If I had to describe him with only one word, it would be "personable." He really cares about what you think and remembers it forever. Sam also shocked the Lehigh Valley when he marched a Lehigh Little League Team to the doors of the World Series.
Mike Koury - another Easton class act. At one time a bond counsel, Mike returned to the Lehigh Valley to fill his dad's shoes as a magistrate in Wilson Borough. He's run and narrowly lost this race twice. Is the third time the charm?
Chris Spadoni - Solicitor to Bethlehem City Council and a county lawyer to boot, Chris spent years honing his trial skills as an Assistant DA. Unfortunately, I was his guinea pig much of the time. We tried lots of cases against each other and became good friends, although Spadoni denies it. He is by far the funniest member of this entire bunch, remembers his Martin's Creek roots and is the person who encouraged and ran with me during my first ever 23 mile run, many years ago.
Jim Narlesky - a Bethlehem magistrate who also has ample experience as a former prosecutor. He's another class act. In the rough and tumble world of criminal trials, I never once saw him lose his cool. But he's run for judge many times now.
Brian Monahan - a former county council solicitor and unsuccessful candidate for state house and magistrate, Monahan is as qualified as any other person here. But he's always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Right now, Williams Township residents are up in arms against their local supervisors, including its solicitor, over the proposed Chrin landfill expansion. That solicitor happens to be Monahan. I can't imagine that getting him too many votes.
Jim Pfeiffer - Originally a Jersey lawyer and judge, he's now in Pennsylvania and some claim he wants to don that black robe again. Why'd he give up his judgeship in Jersey? Has he really been here long enough to understand the very real differences between Pa. and Jersey practice?
Holly Calantoni - a very nice lady, but simply not in the same league with the others mentioned. But she knows how to fill campaign coffers. Between Holly and her father, she's kicked in $9,300 to judicial and DA candidates over the past eight years.
Am I missing anyone? Let me know.