As the head of a county office, I’ve had to balance the critical importance of serving both the county and clients while also using each dollar in the most efficient way possible. I take my duty to the taxpayers exceedingly seriously.
A prime example of where a judge can have a major impact on tax dollars is what to do with certain inmates that are being sent to State Correctional facilities. One of the state’s most effective programs is the State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) Program. SIP is an intensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, which then transfers to a community corrections center and usually requires finding full-time employment for the inmates. With a proven track record of improving inmates’ futures, SIP decreases the chances that they will commit another crime and/or go back to jail. In turn, they are likely to become productive and tax-paying members of society—saving the Commonwealth money on future incarceration and increasing tax revenue. Improving Clarion’s commitment to sending qualified inmates to this program and others like it could save taxpayers an enormous amount of money in the long term.
Having a judge that is aware of every decision and the role it can play on county taxpayers is crucial for a sustainable future for our families, neighbors, and community. That recognition, is a major priority for my view of good leadership.
A judge must act not only as an impartial arbiter, but also as the voice of the norms, expectations, and values of the community where possible.
In my time as Public Defender, I’ve seen and met people down on their luck, brought up in tough family situations, and some that simply do not respect the law or the values of Pennsylvania. I have conversed, served, and represented a wide range of individuals and, unfortunately, I am familiar with the depravity that can exist within the minds of some people. To that end, I will always place the safety, security, and well-being of Clarion County at the top of my priorities.
Tough, but Fair Justice
A judge also must consider the difficult situations that people find themselves in when they come to court. Whether a blue-collar worker has a contract dispute, a young college student is requesting a protection from abuse order, or there is a complicated medical malpractice case with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, I believe that true justice requires remembering that every case is about the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors.
As a Public Defender, I’ve had clients of many different walks of life. The most critical part of my job is to identify with, connect with, and empathize with each client. I’ve made it my priority to always remember that all of my clients expect and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and like their cases are the most important in the world—because to them, it is.
As judge, I will always make sure that each and every person in my courtroom is treated with the utmost professionalism, warmth, and open-mindedness.
A judge is one of the hardest working individuals in the entire legal system—he or she will have to put in an extraordinary amount of time day in and day out working on the numerous cases that day, the day before, and the day after. Clarion County needs someone who always has the work ethic to go 100% for each and every case.
As Public Defender in Pittsburgh and Clarion County, I handle each and every case with the utmost attention. I have personally handled over 1,000 cases just in my time in Clarion. I do not have investigators, I do not have detectives, and I do not have police officers that answer to me to go out and conduct interviews—I have my work and my office’s Legal Administrative Assistant. This leaves the work load on me to review all the evidence, conduct investigations, acquire necessary records or photographs, and to interview witnesses.
When I’m not working on a specific case, you can find me at one of the many diversionary court programs designed to better serve Clarion County. Whether it be on the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court team, or the Behavioral Health Court team, which I helped start. I am even a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board to help better serve our community’s continued goal of a more perfect judicial system.
I do all of this happily, because I love serving my clients and the county—and that relentless work ethic is the exact kind of attitude a person needs to successfully preside as a judge.