|Sam Murray asks security to remove me from his campaign announcement.|
It was a Who's Who of lawyers, elected officials and family friends, both Republican and Democrat, who descended upon Riverview Country Club last night. A throng of at least 170 heard Easton attorney Sam Murray announce his candidacy for the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas. I was there, too. I crashed it.
I told the receptionist that my name is Jerry Seyfried..
"He's already here, sir,"
"Did I say Seyfried? I meant Stoffa. John Stoffa. I have dyslexia."
She gave me the look most people reserve for craZies, but let me pass.
I was in.
I've known Sam since he first started practicing law in 1983. Like many lawyers, he's smart and is unafraid of work. But what sets him apart, both a lawyer and as a person, is that he always has the time to listen, and I mean really listen, to people. He will hear what you say. This is what will set him apart as a judge, too. Good judges, I have noticed, are excellent listeners.
|Audience applauds when Wheeler tases me.|
The courts saw something they like. In 2003, Sam was appointed a Child Custody Master and Juvenile Court Judicial Hearing Officer. For those of you who are outside the legal arena, Masters and hearing officers stand in the place of a judge, and their recommendations are nearly always accepted.
So Sam already knows what it is like to make a tough call.
"I will always protect and defend the Constitution," Murray stated last night. He added that the most important right in a courtroom is due process.
|The reception room was decorated with pretty blondes and Murray yard signs|
Nobody disputes Vic's personal integrity or his legal acumen. But his stint with Brown has killed any hope he has to be a judge, at least for now. His chariot is driving headlong into the Red Sea, but a wall of water is collapsing around his judicial race.
Sam will be resigning his seat as a Juvenile Court Hearing Officer. The Courts require this from any judicial employee. Murray not only agrees with this principle, but adds that any County employee who runs for judge should resign. Let me connect the dots again. Sam is referring to Abe Kassis, an Assistant District Attorney who is also running for judge and who has kept his County job.
Sam has always believed in community service. He has coached girls' basketball, and managed the 2002 Lehigh Little League team that won a state championship and participated in the World Series.
My grandson was in awe when he met Sam and his son Joseph one Sunday.
At the reception, I sat with the bad crowd. Constables Charles Hentz and Lance Wheeler, along with former Chief Probation Officer Mark Mazziotti, kept wary eyes on me. They know I'm slippery. I still managed to eat all of the hummus, mushrooms and bruschetta. When they finally kicked me out, I left for a County Council meeting with a garlic breath so strong that they were forced to go into Executive Session.
There was no shortage of local heavyweights at this shindig, from former NorCo Executive Jerry Seyfried to former State Rep. Rich Grucela. Prominent Republicans like Ray DeRaymond and Bill Murphy were there. Bethlehem and Easton Mayors Bob Donchez and Sal Panto offered statements of support.
But the person who put it best was Mark Mazziotti. "He's the first guy I ever met who actually deserved to be a judge," stated the former Probation Officer. He should know.