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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, March 11, 2011

MMI Prep to Host En Banc Panels of the Superior Court

From time to time, panels of the Superior and Commonwealth Courts will hear arguments in County courthouses. But it's rare to see a judge of any kind at a high school.

All that will change on April 5, when the Pennsylvania Superior Court will descend on MMI Prep in Freeland, which is located near Hazleton, Pa.

According to Superior Court President Judge Correale Stevens, "This is the first time ever a full 9 judge panel of the Court will be held at a high school, giving students an opportunity to see how the appellate courts function”.

“We are reaching out to the communities with our Court, and this is going to be very special for the judges, the lawyers and the students,” Stevens noted. “And at the end of the legal arguments we will hold a question and answer period with the students.”

Superior Court usually holds argument court in courtrooms in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Typically, an argument court session are legal arguments before a panel of 3 judges. Twice a year, there is a special 9 judge panel convened, the En Banc, which takes cases that the judges determine are especially controversial or important to resolve conflicts among the 3 judge panels.

“The En Banc speaks for the entire Court and is an important part of the Superior Court’s decision-making process,” Stevens said in a news release.

“In keeping with our commitment to community awareness I have scheduled 3 judge panels this year in Berks, Cambria and Lancaster counties, as well as on campus at Dickinson Law School and Temple Law School. Our judges also volunteer for many Bar and community educational programs,” Stevens added.

“The lawyers who appear before the Court have been most gracious in making their legal arguments in a community environment.”

In 2003 a 3 judge panel chaired by Stevens was held in the auditorium of Hazleton High School.

Stevens will be the presiding judge, and the session is open to the public beginning at 9:30am. Remarks will be made by MMI's Tom Hood, Wilkes Barre Law and Library President Robert Schaub, Luzerne County President Judge Tom Burke and Patrick J. Solano, Special Advisor to the Senate Majority Leader, who will introduce the speakers.

Often called the court of second guess, the Superior Court is where most appeals from a trial court are heard. They also approve wiretap requests. They handled 8,461 appeals filed last year. If you do the math, that's 2.1 decisions per day from each of the Court's 15 judges, who spend three weeks out of every month riding the circuit between Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philly.

I've just finished writing a brief, and that took a week, so I can honestly tell you these judges work hard for their $178,914 salaries.

PCN will tape April's session for broadcast. Commentators for the PCN taping are Attorney Donald Brobst of Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald and Attorney Marion Munley of Munley, Munley and Cartwright.


Anonymous said...

Pretty cool for the students. Do those judges work harder than our slave driven robesters in NorCo.?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was talking about this with some frineds today. Each of these judges has to hand down 2.1 opinions per day. Think about that for a minute. Writing an opinion requires tou to read the briefs, read the record, research the law, listen to oral arguments and the views of other judges. I honestly don't know how they do it. On top of that, they spend three weeks of every month on the road. Yes, they have law clerks, but even with that, it is a monumental amount of work. So I think it is safe to say that the Superior Court is the workhorse of the Pa Bench.

Anonymous said...

MMI is a tiny prep school in the hardscrapple town of Freeland. It has seen its "glory days." Old joke- if snow is falling in Freeland and the wind is blowing in Hazleton, what is happening in between? It's Drifton!

That's about as exciting as things get up there...