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Judicial Independence

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NEWS
March 17, 1998
If Frederica Massiah-Jackson's confirmation battle were a TV sitcom, it could be called "District Attorneys Behaving Badly. " But there is nothing funny about the campaign spearheaded by District Attorney Lynne Abraham against the Philadelphia Common Pleas judge's nomination to the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. Abraham's distortive effort adds up to judicial intimidation. Massiah-Jackson withdrew yesterday. In human terms, Massiah-Jackson tells her own story elsewhere in these pages.
NEWS
May 22, 1998
For now, the judge is still the person for whom all stand in a Pennsylvania courtroom. But imagine a different start to a trial: Order in the court. All rise, for the honorable . . . district attorney. Sound far-fetched? Well, if a proposed amendment to the state constitution goes ahead giving prosecutors the right to demand a jury trial, court criers might as well herald the prosecutor's arrival. Judges - not to mention defendants - may be asked to knock before entering the room.
NEWS
October 4, 2007 | By Amy Worden INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Colins, the longest-serving judge in the 37-year history of the court, will step down in January to devote himself to defending judicial independence, he said. Colins, 61, said that after 23 years on the Commonwealth Court and four years on Philadelphia Municipal Court, it was "time to move on. " In an interview yesterday, Colins said he looked forward to taking up the cause of what he said was an "increasing threat to the independence of the judiciary.
NEWS
June 5, 2006 | By Amy Worden INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III could have taken the safe route and retreated to the privacy of the courthouse after issuing his landmark ruling in December against intelligent design. Most judges are loath to go public about their cases at all, let alone respond to their critics. But Jones - angered by accusations that he had betrayed the conservative cause with his ruling, and disturbed by the growing number of politically motivated attacks on judges in general - came out from his chambers swinging.
NEWS
December 30, 2005
TRIAL judges from all across Pennsylvania have sued to restore the judicial compensation provisions repealed by the Legislature in November. The repeal bill, as applied to judicial salaries, violates the Pennsylvania Constitution since it reduces the salaries of sitting judges without similarly reducing the salaries of all other "salaried officers of the Commonwealth. " The issues raised by the judicial compensation provisions in the July pay raise and November repeal bills are not the same as the issues involving legislative pay raises that made people so angry.
NEWS
December 6, 1998 | By Josh Goldstein, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
They emphasized the importance of judicial independence, impartiality and accountability. And they pointed out the negative impact of politics on the courts. But U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer - and dozens of state and federal judges at a Philadelphia symposium - didn't offer any easy remedies. The event, sponsored by the American Bar Association, examined problems such as expensive election campaigns that force judicial candidates to raise huge sums of money and politicians who attempt to compromise the impartiality of the nation's courts for their own political ends.
NEWS
March 21, 2006
Just imagine trying to evict an old bachelor judge from his ancestral farmhouse. That one stunt is proof that attacks on the independence of America's judiciary have gone too far. Good thing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter that most voters in his New Hampshire hometown last week turned against the idea of seizing his house. The justice can breathe a sigh of relief, even if he knew all along that the proposed seizure would never stand up in court, that the intent was symbolic punishment.
NEWS
November 2, 2007 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Two days after she harshly criticized a Philadelphia judge who reduced a rape charge to "theft of services" because the victim was a prostitute, the head of the city's bar association is herself the target of lawyers for attacking "the independence of the judiciary. " "Absolutely inappropriate," veteran Center City defense lawyer George H. Newman said yesterday, referring to Tuesday's statement by bar Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton criticizing Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni.
NEWS
February 28, 1987 | By JOSEPH R. DAUGHEN, Daily News Staff Writer
As long as candidates for judge must pay allegiance to political organizations they will be on a path that "inevitably leads to compromise of judicial independence, integrity and principle," the Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor said yesterday. Chancellor Seymour Kurland made his comments after it was disclosed that Democratic Party officials had sought assurances from lawyers seeking judicial nominations that the party would have a hand in hiring court staff. Philadelphia voters will elect six Common Pleas judges this year, and the Democratic and Republican Parties already have agreed to endorse the same six candidates.
BUSINESS
June 17, 2012 | Inquirer Staff Report
"Contagion is back with a vengeance, and Italy is bearing the brunt of the fallout from Spain's request for external assistance. "   — Sovereign-debt expert Nicholas Spiro, on the European financial crisis.   "Our role is to say what is possible under EU law. We are not scriptwriters for disaster films. "   — Olivier Bailly, a European Commission spokesman, on the possibility of a Greek euro exit.   "In the midst of the crisis abroad, the news in Colombia remains favorable.
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NEWS
May 19, 2013 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
ATLANTIC CITY - In an unusually pointed response to Gov. Christie's frequent excoriation of the judiciary, state Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin asserted in a speech Friday that politicians' criticism of judicial decisions undermines democracy and weakens public confidence in the court. Albin, whom Christie has criticized by name, was the lead speaker at a New Jersey State Bar Association panel on judicial independence. Open criticism of judges' decisions could cause others to fear for their careers and undercut the ability of jurists throughout the system to render impartial judgments, he said.
NEWS
March 26, 2013 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
The New Jersey Supreme Court, once viewed as a bastion of independent, if liberal, jurisprudence, risks a sharply diminished reputation if political battles over filling its empty seats are not quickly resolved, legal experts and court-reform advocates say. The immediate issue facing the court is the maneuvering between Gov. Christie and Senate Democrats over the two unfilled positions. But experts say the larger issue is the breakdown of an informal, decades-old agreement between the parties to minimize partisan wrangling over judicial nominees.
BUSINESS
June 17, 2012 | Inquirer Staff Report
"Contagion is back with a vengeance, and Italy is bearing the brunt of the fallout from Spain's request for external assistance. "   — Sovereign-debt expert Nicholas Spiro, on the European financial crisis.   "Our role is to say what is possible under EU law. We are not scriptwriters for disaster films. "   — Olivier Bailly, a European Commission spokesman, on the possibility of a Greek euro exit.   "In the midst of the crisis abroad, the news in Colombia remains favorable.
NEWS
November 2, 2007 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Two days after she harshly criticized a Philadelphia judge who reduced a rape charge to "theft of services" because the victim was a prostitute, the head of the city's bar association is herself the target of lawyers for attacking "the independence of the judiciary. " "Absolutely inappropriate," veteran Center City defense lawyer George H. Newman said yesterday, referring to Tuesday's statement by bar Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton criticizing Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni.
NEWS
October 4, 2007 | By Amy Worden INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Colins, the longest-serving judge in the 37-year history of the court, will step down in January to devote himself to defending judicial independence, he said. Colins, 61, said that after 23 years on the Commonwealth Court and four years on Philadelphia Municipal Court, it was "time to move on. " In an interview yesterday, Colins said he looked forward to taking up the cause of what he said was an "increasing threat to the independence of the judiciary.
NEWS
September 20, 2006
SHOULD JUDGES BE judging the judges . . . especially when it comes to determining how much they should earn? Last week's state Supreme Court decision that reinstated pay raises for commonwealth judges has spurred many taxpayers to ask that question. The fact is, answering that question is relatively simple, legally speaking. But the other questions that last week's decision raises may not be so simply resolved. The judges' decision is the latest chapter in what can charitably called the Legislative Pay Raise Debacle, when Harrisburg lawmakers last year gave themselves and the judges pay raises in the middle of the night, absent any public hearings.
NEWS
June 5, 2006 | By Amy Worden INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III could have taken the safe route and retreated to the privacy of the courthouse after issuing his landmark ruling in December against intelligent design. Most judges are loath to go public about their cases at all, let alone respond to their critics. But Jones - angered by accusations that he had betrayed the conservative cause with his ruling, and disturbed by the growing number of politically motivated attacks on judges in general - came out from his chambers swinging.
NEWS
March 21, 2006
Just imagine trying to evict an old bachelor judge from his ancestral farmhouse. That one stunt is proof that attacks on the independence of America's judiciary have gone too far. Good thing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter that most voters in his New Hampshire hometown last week turned against the idea of seizing his house. The justice can breathe a sigh of relief, even if he knew all along that the proposed seizure would never stand up in court, that the intent was symbolic punishment.
NEWS
December 30, 2005
TRIAL judges from all across Pennsylvania have sued to restore the judicial compensation provisions repealed by the Legislature in November. The repeal bill, as applied to judicial salaries, violates the Pennsylvania Constitution since it reduces the salaries of sitting judges without similarly reducing the salaries of all other "salaried officers of the Commonwealth. " The issues raised by the judicial compensation provisions in the July pay raise and November repeal bills are not the same as the issues involving legislative pay raises that made people so angry.
NEWS
December 6, 1998 | By Josh Goldstein, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
They emphasized the importance of judicial independence, impartiality and accountability. And they pointed out the negative impact of politics on the courts. But U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer - and dozens of state and federal judges at a Philadelphia symposium - didn't offer any easy remedies. The event, sponsored by the American Bar Association, examined problems such as expensive election campaigns that force judicial candidates to raise huge sums of money and politicians who attempt to compromise the impartiality of the nation's courts for their own political ends.
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