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Family Court

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NEWS
December 27, 2001 | By Nora Koch INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
Officials will cut the ribbon today on the new home for the Gloucester County family court, although court will not convene until Wednesday. The structure will relieve cramped chambers at the Gloucester County Courthouse at Broad and Delaware Streets. The move to the former site of a First Union Bank at Broad and Cooper Streets will increase security for the family-court system, which handles divorce, custody, juvenile-delinquency and domestic-violence cases. The 40,000-square-foot, three-story building will contain five courtrooms.
NEWS
May 27, 2010 | By Joseph Tanfani and Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Staff Writers
After nearly two years and more than $10 million, Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille has killed the no-bid development deal for a new Family Court building. Castille decided to dismiss developer Donald Pulver after The Inquirer disclosed that Pulver had made lawyer Jeffrey B. Rotwitt a partner in the project - at the same time that Rotwitt was being paid as Castille's representative. Castille said Rotwitt had never told him about what he called a possible conflict of interest.
NEWS
May 23, 2010 | By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
I owe the architects at EwingCole an apology for trashing their Family Court building, planned for an empty lot across from JFK Plaza, at 15th and Arch Streets. It's not the designers' fault that the bulky, 14-story building, a clone of the original, mediocre Penn Center slab towers, will be a mean and frosty rendition of America's most noble architectural form, the courthouse. Thanks to Friday's Inquirer article on the Pennsylvania courts' casual oversight of the $200 million project, we now know that the real architect of this affront to democracy is Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, who presided over the project while it was milked for fees by a pair of political insiders, lawyer Jeffrey B. Rotwitt and developer Donald W. Pulver.
NEWS
September 5, 2007 | By Gail Shister, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the courtroom of life, there's not much order for Philadelphia judge Lisa Richette. She's been beaten and robbed on the streets of Center City - twice. She's been punched in the head while sitting in her car. She's had her chambers taken over by a deranged woman who donned her judicial robes. And now, at almost 79, the senior Family Court jurist has been assaulted by her own son, police say. Moreover, the day after his arrest, he exposed himself on camera to a TV reporter. It's a monster hit on YouTube.
NEWS
May 29, 1991 | by Mark McDonald, Daily News Staff Writer
In the latest state Supreme Court onslaught against city court spending, 88 Family Court employees have received layoff notices and Traffic Court President Judge George Twardy has been threatened with contempt of court. Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Papadakos, in charge of the budget cuts, said the Family Court layoffs, combined with the elimination of 22 vacant positions, will save more than $3 million. Family Court currently has about 650 employees. The layoff notices, the first in Family Court, were received over the weekend and take effect July 1. Family Court Administrative Judge Jerome Zaleski is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
NEWS
January 21, 1986
Your Dec. 30 editorial on the crisis in the Family Court was most welcome. For years I have watched the court atrophy. Instead of serving children, families and the public with the best judges and most efficient operations, the court was left to languish like a lost child. Your editorial must be heeded. The court needs an adequate staff of well- trained, compassionate and learned judges. And, as you correctly noted, the court must also be staffed appropriately. The court currently has a critical shortage of probation officers and clerical staff.
NEWS
July 2, 1992 | by Mark McDonald, Daily News Staff Writer
One of the first tests facing Judge Esther Sylvester, the new administrative judge of the Family Court, will be a choice between patronage and reorganization. At the center of controversy is the court's medical branch. Its top two employees have been targeted for removal by the city's court czar. Executive Court Administrator Geoff Gallas issued a report that describes as "counter-productive and superfluous" the $53,331 job held by branch chief John J. Fitzgerald and the $51,961 job of his assistant, Margaret J. Sosnowski.
NEWS
December 6, 2010 | By Joseph Tanfani, Inquirer Staff Writer
As a state Supreme Court justice desperate to find a way to build a new Family Court building in Center City, Sandra Schultz Newman hired real estate lawyer Jeffrey B. Rotwitt to make the project happen. Two years later, as Rotwitt's firm was closing in on a $3.9 million payday, Newman - by then a lawyer in private practice - tried to make sure some of the Family Court fees went to her son, a former lawyer in Rotwitt's firm. The former justice sent an e-mail to Rotwitt in March 2008 saying her son Jonathan, who introduced her to Rotwitt, should get credit for scoring the deal for the firm, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.
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NEWS
April 23, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
As 14-year-old Nathaniel Wells recalled, "We started busting on them. " It was Wells and two teen boys on one side of 19th Street in South Philadelphia and two teenage girls on the other, taunting each other about looks and clothes. It was harmless until it wasn't, when 14-year-old Azim Chaplin looked up and said: "I'm stabbed. " "I lifted up his shirt and just saw blood," Wells said. Wells' testimony on Tuesday persuaded a Municipal Court judge to order 15-year-old Amber Hellesten to stand trial on a charge of third-degree murder in the Feb. 11 stabbing that killed Chaplin in a confrontation in the 2100 block of Watkins Street.
NEWS
April 22, 2014 | BY JOHN F. MORRISON, Daily News Staff Writer morrisj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5573
BILL McMONAGLE went to work every morning wearing a bulletproof vest. He needed it because part of his job was to go after deadbeat dads, who frequently weren't happy about having to fork over support payments to women they no longer loved. Bill was shot at, hit over the head with a banister post, and, of course, regularly threatened and raked by verbal abuse. It was part of the job. Bill McMonagle was head of the Philadelphia Family Court bench-warrant unit. He not only tracked down deadbeat dads, but he also found children who had been kidnapped by irate parents, usually fathers.
NEWS
April 11, 2014 | BY MENSAH M. DEAN, Daily News Staff Writerdeanm@phillynews.com, 215-568-8278
At less than 5 feet tall, Zaria Estes could have been mistaken for a middle-school student in court Thursday. She seemed unsure about the meaning of the word "waive" - as in waiving one's right to a preliminary hearing. But Estes, 15, who was arrested along with two of her friends last month, is the one accused of using a brick to attack a female Temple University student who was walking with her boyfriend on Norris Street near 17th, the District Attorney's Office said. During the March 21 attack, the Temple student was battered with the brick numerous times, causing extensive damage to her face and mouth, authorities said.
NEWS
March 27, 2014 | BY DANA DiFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writer difilid@phillynews.com, 215-854-5934
WHEN THEY MET in 2010, she was 14 and he, a silver-haired 72-year-old, was old enough to be her grandfather. They met at Courtesy Stables in Andorra. She rode horses. Walter Sasse, a retired Philadelphia cop who spent 18 years on horseback in the elite Mounted Patrol, supervised the barn. At first, everything was ordinary, she said. But friendly hugs and kisses soon turned into romantic kissing and fondling. That escalated into a 2 1/2-year relationship that included frequent oral sex and masturbation until she ended things in December, she said.
NEWS
March 20, 2014 | By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer
In a sweeping $500 million-plus project aimed at finally upgrading Philadelphia's worn downtown retail district and spreading Center City's apartment revival east of Broad Street, a development group says it plans to demolish a modest block of stores on Market Street between 11th and 12th - and eventually level or renovate the rest of the block down to Chestnut Street - in favor of a new retail/residential complex. Developers of the complex, to be called East Market, are two Philadelphia concerns, backed by Washington and New York firms.
NEWS
March 3, 2014 | By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ron Castille had no trouble coming up with a million dollars to pay Jeff Rotwitt's law firm a finder's fee for identifying the site of Philadelphia's new Family Court. And when details emerged about Rotwitt's money-grab with the project's developer, it was no stretch for Castille to locate another million to sever the deal. Nor did he stint when he hired a friend to investigate the mess, paying $1 million for fact-finding that was never made public. Yet somehow Castille can't scrounge together a modest $500,000 to purchase art for the new Family Court at 15th and Arch, the most visible and important government project built in Philadelphia in two decades.
NEWS
March 1, 2014 | By Seth Zweifler, Inquirer Staff Writer
The city's court system has taken steps to help Philadelphia's growing immigrant communities navigate their way around the courtroom. This month, the First Judicial District released Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese translations of some of the most frequently used documents in Family Court and Municipal Court. The translation project, a $25,000 undertaking, is designed to make life easier for non-English-speakers who have a tough time making sense of jargon-loaded court documents.
NEWS
February 28, 2014 | By Carolyn Davis, Inquirer Staff Writer
NORRISTOWN A decade later, lawyer Daniel J. Clifford still remembers watching a Family Court judge in the region awkwardly interviewing a child at the center of a custody dispute. "It was probably the worst interview I've ever seen of anyone," said Clifford, who heads the Pennsylvania Bar Association's family law section. "Nothing was being accomplished except everyone feeling uncomfortable. " That scene fueled Clifford's crusade to teach Family Court judges how to put children at ease during interviews before custody decisions are made.
NEWS
February 20, 2014 | By Jennifer Lin, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA It is not the biggest plan for converting the historic Family Court building at 1801 Vine St. into a luxury hotel. It calls for neither the most rooms or meeting space, and it does not carry the highest price tag. But the winning bid to retrofit the 73-year-old courthouse into a Kimpton Hotel was the most straightforward, Mayor Nutter said Tuesday. The Kimpton team, led by Peebles Corp. of New York City, beat out groups headed by the high-profile local developers Ken Goldenberg and Carl Dranoff.
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