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Adams Center Examines State Judicial System on Oct. 28

Oct. 24, 2008

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.)–Americans are rightfully proud of their federal and state constitutions, and that the individual rights they guarantee will not be violated by government. But the liberties and freedoms we cherish have no value unless they are voluntarily honored by government or enforced. Who is the enforcer when enforcement is necessary to honor our constitutional guarantees?

The Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society at Susquehanna University will explore this question on Oct. 28 when it presents How the Pennsylvania Judiciary Upholds Rights and Liberties, featuring Pennsylvania Superior Court Judges Joan Orie Melvin, John T. Bender and James J. Fitzgerald III.

Melvin was elected to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in 1997. Prior to that, she served as a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. She also served as magistrate for the City of Pittsburgh Municipal Courts and as chief magistrate for the City of Pittsburgh. As chief magistrate, she established Pennsylvania’s first Domestic Violence Court. Melvin was retained for a second 10-year term on the Superior Court in November 2007.

Bender was elected to the Superior Court in November 2001 after serving four years as District Justice in Magisterial District 05-2-04, based in Sharpsburg, Pa.  Bender also served as an Allegheny County assistant district attorney. He spent more than 25 years in private practice representing individuals in criminal and civil proceedings.

Fitzgerald currently serves as a senior judge on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In 2007, he was nominated by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment, and he was sworn in as an interim justice in March 2007. He previously held two 10-year terms on the bench of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In 2002, he was appointed administrative judge in the trial division by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The program the judges will present at Susquehanna will examine the rich history of Pennsylvania’s judiciary, and the current structure and operation of the Pennsylvania judicial system. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall of the Cunningham Center for Music and Art.

Contact: Gerald Cohen
570-372-4119

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