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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
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 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
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
February 6, 2015 | By Helen Ubinas, Daily News Columnist
NO PARENT ever dreams their kid will become an addict. If that weren't obvious enough, it lay bare in the despair and desperation on the faces of many of the parents who attended a recent forum about young people struggling with substance abuse. Nancy and Kevin Peter, of West Mount Airy, were panelists at the Horsham Township Community Center forum last week. When it was their turn to speak, Nancy began with an admission that moved other parents to nod in agreement. When the Peters envisioned their only son's life, addiction wasn't part of it. "I suspect it's what happens when a child is suddenly hurt in an accident, or is stricken with a disease . . . parents have to 'recalibrate' the future they envisioned for their son or daughter," she later said.
NEWS
January 31, 2015 | By Chris Brennan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jim Kenney and Kevin Dougherty grew up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood, two kids from the block in Whitman who crafted careers in public service. The city councilman and Common Pleas Court judge are now aiming higher. And their ambitions align in a way that stands to benefit them both. Kenney, 56, resigned Thursday from his sixth term on Council and is now preparing a campaign for mayor. Dougherty, 52, is expected to announce in three weeks his bid for one of three openings on the state Supreme Court.
NEWS
January 15, 2015 | BY DANA DiFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writer difilid@phillynews.com, 215-854-5934
To her family, 16-year-old Zaria Estes is a "considerate and caring" girl who likes tuna fish and dancing and doesn't always keep her room clean. But to Abbey Luffey's family, Estes is the cold and calculating monster who attacked Luffey, a Temple University student, last March as Luffey walked with her boyfriend on the edge of campus. As she and her friends hunted prey for their sadistic game of "knock a bitch down," Estes bashed Luffey in the face with a brick, leaving her with a broken jaw, palate and teeth - and a shattered sense of security.
NEWS
January 8, 2015 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
A FEDERAL JUDGE has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a niece of alleged kidnapper and torturer Linda Ann Weston against the city and a former Department of Human Services worker. In a judgment filed Monday and made public yesterday, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled in favor of the former DHS worker, Nefertiti Savoy, and the city, and against Beatrice Weston, 23, who filed the suit. The judge ruled that while Savoy - the DHS case worker who recommended to a judge that Beatrice live with her aunt and failed to investigate Linda Weston's criminal background - was negligent, she could not be found liable for the abuse Beatrice suffered by her aunt.
NEWS
January 5, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
On leaving the city's old Family Court building, The Inquirer recently reported, some judges saw fit to take the fixtures with them to their new chambers. This neatly illustrated the distance between judicial impropriety and criminal guilt. No one - including the city officials who promised the court's antique accoutrements to the building's buyer - is planning to make a federal case out of this. Nor should they. Still, many Philadelphians are no doubt dismayed that their designated arbiters of justice appeared to stoop to stripping a public facility for parts.
NEWS
December 27, 2014 | By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
Even as institutional buildings go, Philadelphia's new Family Court is a spartan place. No architectural flourishes relieve the dreary expanse of its milky glass facade. No murals celebrate benevolent justice or family virtues. No modern art adds color to its bland white walls. But for a brief moment, Family Court's cold, unadorned rooms were brought to life by decorative antique lamps, ornate torchères, and fine wooden chairs. According to the city's commissioner of public property, Bridget Collins-Greenwald, those valuable, custom-designed objects were stripped by Family Court judges and court employees from the historic Logan Square palazzo that served as the court's home for seven decades, and carted off to their new building overlooking LOVE Park, to be used to decorate the judges' chambers.
NEWS
December 14, 2014 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
Seven aging bridges over the Vine Street Expressway (I-676) will be replaced over the next five years at a cost of $64.8 million, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Friday. Buckley & Co., Inc., of Philadelphia, is the apparent low bidder to replace bridges carrying 22nd Street, 21st Street, Benjamin Franklin Parkway/20th Street, 19th Street, 18th Street, and the Free Library and Family Court pedestrian bridges over the expressway. The work is scheduled to start in February and be completed by the fall of 2019, PennDot said.
NEWS
December 2, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
COMMON PLEAS Judge Benjamin Lerner, with nearly 20 years on the bench, is respected by peers, prosecutors and defense lawyers. Next week, Lerner, 73, will be recognized by the Philadelphia Bar Association. He will receive the Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award at the bar association's annual luncheon meeting Dec. 9 at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. "Everybody who knows him knows him as a man of great integrity, vision and talent," said Bill Fedullo, chancellor of the bar association.
NEWS
November 23, 2014 | BY STEPHANIE FARR, Daily News Staff Writer farrs@phillynews.com, 215-854-4225
CHILDREN AS young as 11 years old were allegedly strip-searched in full view of other kids when they entered the new Family Court building this week, according to sources, but when court administrators learned of the practice they put a stop to it. The new Family Court building at 15th and Arch streets just opened Monday, but for a building that was mired in controversy during its construction, this was yet another sticky, ugly hurdle. In an email from child advocates that was sent to the Family Court judges on Monday, concerns were raised about young children being strip-searched in front of one another by adults, including the strip-searching of children who may have been awaiting trial, not just those who have been adjudicated.
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