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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 17, 2008

Morganelli Eyeing Judgeship

In his fascinating book, The D-Day Bank Massacre, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli presents a harsh assessment of judges.
"If anyone tries to tell you that judges are apolitical, tell them to call me. In my 26 years as a practicing lawyer, I have learned that judges are probably the most political animals in the political and legal jungle. Not all of them, of course. But many come to their positions with the same prejudices and bias that we all have from our life experience. The donning of the black robe allows them to hide behind the law while forming their own ideas of how things should be."
Ironically, Morganelli is now seriously considering donning that black robe himself.

Narrowly losing his third attempt to become the state's top cop, Morganelli is now eyeing one of three judicial seats that will be available next year. One spot will definitely go to Judge Zito, who was sworn in as judge last month. John will definitely win the second opening, should he choose to run.

And that's a good thing. Morganelli is in a unique position to remove politics from the bench and eliminate at least some of the cronyism, in which ClerkTechIII jobs are awarded to people who are unable to type.


Anonymous said...

One of the most political and cronyed up pols wants to run and you say independent. You have what credibility? When you like someopne all judgement goes out the window. It is why only your suckups believe you.

Is this guy ever really want to just be what he was elected to be.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As someone who is posting at 12:30 on a Sunday night, I suspect you must yourself be a regular reader.

I've known Morganelli a long time and consider him the best DA Northampton County ever produced. I disagree sharply with his stance on illegal immigration and his use of Scissorhands Severson, but he has many positive qualities. First, he is accessible. Second, he is smart. Third, he did a great job w/ the DA's office. Fourth, he is a strong believer in individual liberties.

In addition to these qualities, Morganelli knows how judges can abuse their authority. He is probably the only elected official who has ever said so publicly, which takes a tremendous amount of courage. I am sure he would be an excellent judge and believe he would do his best to ensure that abuses of judicial power are minimized, if not eliminated.

You call Morganelli a political pol? Duh. Of course, he's political. He's a politician.

But cronyed up? How? He was the first DA to hire a black assistant. He was the first DA to hire a Latino detective. Many members of this politician's staff happen to be Republicans. If you look at his hires over 17 years, you'll find a very fair man who looked for diversity and competence.

I have never looked at John thru rose colored glasses and have been highly critical of some of his positions. But he is a good lawyer and administrator who will make a great judge.

This is no contest. In the AG race, in the three weeks leading up to the election, the LV was flooded w. negative ads from Corbett. Despite that, John got 63% of vote in Northampton County, outpacing Obama (55%), Wagner, McCord and even Charlie Dent. That's pretty impressive for a guy who spent the last 17 years making enemies and putting people in jail.

Calling John political is fair, but calling him "cronyed up" is an insult to him and the many fine people who work under him. Have there been exceptions? Yes, but very few.

I hope your hatred is not based on the fact John is a D. In fact, he is a very conservative D, and has kept his office on a very tight budget for years, something the judges need to learn.

Anonymous said...

Check his appointment s and his contributions. The things you have beat up others for are there to see. No excuses.

Anonymous said...

Why does the LV elect SO MANY district attorneys and assistant DA's as judges? Isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house?

Anonymous said...

If he wants out so badly (and the record demonstrates an obsession with this), he should immediately resign and figure out his next move while not collecting a taxpayer funded salary.

I'm tired of his never-ending campaign on my dollars. I want a DA who wants the DA's job. It's time for Morganelli to go away.

He's a Democrat. Isn't the bridge commission hiring or something?

Anonymous said...

John MOrganelli is the most political DA I have ever seen. He promoted Democrat Cronies for judge through scissorhands, he allowed john Doe robocalls to go out knowing full well who was doing it and why and passed the buck on prosecution becasue it was his CRONY doing it. He turns his back on everything Scissorhands does to R's and takes his D friends their to run dirty lousy campaigns. Further he shamelessly uses his "drug task force money" to run campaign pieces for judge candidates of his choosing

He certainly does know about abuse of power, but from the wrong side of the issue.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Check his appointment s and his contributions. The things you have beat up others for are there to see. No excuses."

I've written about that, and more than once. Like I said, I do not look at John thru rose colored glasses.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why does the LV elect SO MANY district attorneys and assistant DA's as judges? Isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house?"

Duh. People, and not just people in the LV, tend to respect DAs and their assistants. They don't elect lawyers who don't know how to try a case. They don't elect lawyers with platforms that say, "Everyone is entitled to a defense."

Anonymous said...

"Narrowly losing"?

No, nothing narrow about that loss. Jim Eisenhower had a narrow loss. Morganelli was trounced in a year when Dems had it easy.

Let's not sugar coat the situation, we backed the wrong horse.

Anonymous said...

Morganelli could certainly give Charlie Dent a run for his money. Yet every two years Lehigh Valley Democrats nominate flawed candidates for Congress and lose what should be a competitive seat. Getting elected Judge would cross Morganelli's name off of the list of potential candidates for Congress.

Anonymous said...

Duh. Of course, voters flock to ex-DA's for the same reasons people cry over Police Officers like Kenderski getting fired.

Bernie O'Hare said...

People expect law and order and can you blame them? They will naturally favor a good attorney with that background over a good attorney who does not have it. But are you supposed to oppose a DA simply bc he is a DA?

Historically, Northampton County does not select its judges from the ranks of DAs. It is usually former county solicitors. From 1965 to today, I can't think of a sinlge DA who became judge. I'd have to check back farther, but neither Herster, my dad, Spaz, or Corriere became a judge. Morganelli would be the first DA to become judge in some time.

Anonymous said...

Boonie, you should run for Judge. Then no one will question your public restroom habits as you will have your own private bath.

Anonymous said...

True but Mr. Morganelli has made a hobby out of electing his proteges to the County Court.
If he goes its just like old times with he and his old croonies.

Anonymous said...

So having a prosecutorial bias is called law and order?
Comment 7:44 is provincial or selective. You can't walk into the Lehigh courthouse w/o tripping over ex-DAs.

Anonymous said...

I checked: Half of the judges (that's 50 percent or five of 10) in Lehigh are former DAs or assistant DAs. That's why Allentown streets are so safe.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob Jr,

The corredct word is anecdotal. I conceded ytour point generally, but told you it was not true in Northampton County and it is not. We have "law and order" judges because (1) they have public appeal and (2) they tend to be the most qualified. The best defense attorneys, with some notrable exceptions, are former prosecutors. The best judges, with some notable exceptions, happen to be prosecutors.

Defense attorneys are required to defend their clients zealously within the bounds of the law while prosecutors are required to be fair. So prosecutors tend to get an early education in rising about the dispute.

The reason A-town is such a mess is because its police department is such a mess. Lehigh County's DA has for years been asking for more cops on the street. When LC's Comm'rs voted against community policing, he was one of the people advocating it.

There are judges who do have a prosecutorial bias, and some of them are ex-DAs. But in my experience, that attribute tends to diminish over time.

Anonymous said...

Morganelli quoted in the Nov. 10, 2008 edition of Law Weekly, page 18:
"If I won (the state AG race) I would have been attorney general. If I lost, I still would have my job here as district attorney for three years so I gave it a shot with nothing really to lose."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob, Jr,

I heard John discussing this election night. He did say he had nothing to lose bc he gets to serve the people either way.

It sounds to me as though your real objection is not ex-prosecutors serving as judges, but John Morganelli.

He has more than one opponednet here, but I think he'll make an excellent judge.

Anonymous said...

I really don't give a shit about Morganelli. My point was that some (you included, I believe) are hypocritically eager to attack folks like Mann for constantly seeking higher office while keeping their day jobs, and giving Morganelli a pass for doing the same thing, constantly. It really smacks of bullshit. You should read the article I cited. It's the observations of the quoted "experts" that Morganelli managed to fuck himself when Dems ran roughshod over the republicans in PA because of Morganelli's "kick out the immigrants" and "no parole for criminals" stances. These positions don't fly well with the Dem voters, they said, adding that Morganelli's campaign of intolerance hurt him more than the fact Corbett raised twice the money.
As for DA's getting elected judge, you yourself admitted above that some need time to back off from being prosecutors (great, a learning curve for fairness!).
You are foolish to say that prosecutors "have" to follow the rules while defense lawyers get to push the envelope. Foolish. Prosecutors bend the rules as much or more than defense lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't he want to be D. A.? How many different offices is he going to run for?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob Jr,

There is nothing hypocritical. Mann, unlike Morganelli, was actually seeking two offices at the same time. I would condemn any candidate who does that, Republican or Democrat. If Tony Phillips were to run for city council and mayor simultaneously, I would condemn that, too.

I will also condemn an office holder who is constantly looking for another job. John M has not been that way. He has been a DA for 18 years. During that time, he has only sought one other office, the AG slot. He served two full terms before he ever thought about another office. Mann, on the other hand, has sought three different offices over the last four years.

I've already said I don't share John's views concerning illegal immigrants. But that's a far cry from an assertion of intolerance. That accusation is demonstrably false, and evidence for that is in Morganelli's own record as DA.

John expressed his views concerning illegal immigration and an unqualified Philly judge knowing damn well there would be political consequences. He followed his conscience and you slam him.

As far as me being "foolish" is concerned, I tried cases on both sides. Prosecutors who bend the rules to get a conviction will not be prosecutors for long. They have a responsibility to be fair and to do justice. As a former prosecutor, I took that role seriously, as did my colleagues.

You condemn Morganelli without even knowing him. You slam him bc he is a prosecutor. When I counter that, you make it pretty clear that you just detest Morganelli.

Now, you presume to tell me, an ex-prosecutor myself, that I am "foolish" to think prosecutors try to be fair.

If you want to see a real fool, look in a mirror.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between saying someone is acting foolish and saying someone is a fool.

Anonymous said...

He will fit in all too well on the Norco bench. He will be top vote getter in both primaries.