University of Pittsburgh

Arthur Hellman and John Burkoff on PA Supreme Court Justice's Public Comments on Misconduct by Lower Court Judge

Publish Date/Time: 
August 30, 2011

Professors Arthur Hellman and John Burkoff weighed in on public comments by PA Supreme Court Justice Max Baer concerning another judge who stands accused of misconduct.  Lackawanna County Judge Terrence Nealon has admitted to engaging in behavior that showed "a lapse in ethical judgment," and his case may well be referred to state judicial ethics authorities.  Such cases can end up in front of the PA Supreme Court for final decision.  In a newspaper story, Justice Baer criticized Nealon's behavior but also praised him, saying that Nealon was "a fine man" and "a fine judge" whose "dumb" mistake that should not derail his judicial career. This put the focus on whether Justice Baer's comments might influence the determination of the judicial ethnics case against Judge Nealon, and whether Justice Baer would have to recuse himself if Nealon's case came to the Supreme Court.  Professor Burkoff thought Justice Baer's comments were "not inappropriate," but Professor Hellman said that the comments may, indeed, require Justice Baer to recuse himself.

 

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