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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 27, 2016

Judge Panella Helped By Man He Sent Away

Judge Panella and Jerry
Can people change? Superior Court Judge Jack Panella, whose chambers are in Bethlehem and is a former County judge, has seen some of the state's most hardened criminals in his decades on the bench. But during his summer vacation in Fort Lauderdale, he saw first hand that some people do change for the better

Panella, like many older runners, has back problems from years of pounding. When he and his wife experienced a flat tire in their Florida rental car, he tried his best to throw on a spare. But his back was making it hard for him.

Someone was watching from across the street. A hot dog vendor named Jerry saw Judge Panella. "You look like you're having trouble," he said and offered to help. Judge Panella quickly agreed.

While Jerry worked on the car, a Fort Lauderdale cop also stopped and helped Jerry.

While they were talking, Judge Panella learned that Jerry is originally from Pennsylvania.

"You probably never heard of it, it's called the Lehigh Valley!"

"That's where I'm from!"

Knowing that Jerry is originally from the Lehigh Valley, Panella asked him if he knew anyone.

Jerry did, and spoke very highly of Judge Grifo and McFadden.

"I had some trouble in the past, and that's why I moved here. They were very helpful."

"Do you know Judge Panella?"

"He's the jerk who sentenced me!"

Though Jerry was holding a tire iron, Judge Panella identified himself. Jerry hugged him.


Anonymous said...

Gary W. Gorman writes:

What a heart-warming story. Thanks for sharing it.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Only you could have this on a blog ,Bernie This should be national news .

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the sentence was heartwarming as well. He used unduly harsh punishment on his relentless quest of ingratiation with voters and power brokers to gain his sinecure.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Panella was definitely a tough sentencer, and people do tend to like judges who are tough on crime. I am unaware of too many judges who ran on a platform of going easy on people. Also, I don't call a position that requires the production of at least one opinion every day a sinecure. The Superior Court is probably the busiest court in the country, and certainly is the busiest court in the state.

Anonymous said...

How many law clerks does he have? How many days a year does he sit on the bench? Perhaps sinecure is a stretch but please .. He is amply compensated, has lifetime benefits and a hefty pension for the endless hours of toiling away... Even while on vacation??? No big deal just a few observations.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There are 15 Superior Court Judges who disposed of 8777 appeals in 2015. That translates to 585 matters per judge, assuming a five-day work week. That is actually more than two opinions per day, so my initial comment was wrong. The court calendar is available online. They meet several days every month in Harrisburg, Pittsburg and Philly. They are appellate judges who spend the majority of their time researching and writing opinions and should not sit in session every day or nothing would get done. Each judge does have several clerks, but they are mostly recent law school graduates with a lot to learn. So I agree it is a stretch to call this a sinecure and do believe this court is very busy, compared to other courts. The question of pension and benefits is irrelevant since that exists for all state employees. So I pretty much disagree with your observations, but that's why this blog exists.