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Judge candidates tout qualifications

May 10, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Four candidates for two judge positions in Franklin and Fulton counties recently answered a series of questions presented by The Herald-Mail.

Their responses to the first question appeared in Sunday's newspaper and can be found here. The Web site also has a video bonus question in which candidates talk about the balance between sending criminal offenders to jail and assigning them to drug/alcohol rehabilitation.

Angela Rosenberry Krom, Shawn Meyers, Timothy Wilmot and Eric J. Weisbrod cross-filed, meaning they will appear on both Republican and Democratic ballots when voters head to the polls in Pennsylvania's May 19 primary election. All are registered Republicans.

Political followers have speculated this is the first time two Court of Common Pleas positions were on the ballot in an election cycle. The situation occurred due to the retirement of Judge John Walker and the state's decision to expand the 39th District from four to five judges.

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The order in which the candidates' responses appear was randomly selected.

Why should people vote for you?



Wilmot, an assistant district attorney: I became a candidate because I believe that I am very well prepared to serve as a Common Pleas judge. I have extensive experience in both family law and criminal law. I am the only candidate to have presided over a courtroom and to have clerked for Common Pleas judges. At age 47, I have more life experience to draw from. I have extensive service to this community and to our nation.

Krom, an assistant district attorney: I care very deeply about my community and making it a safe place to live and raise our families. I am fair, open-minded and able to make good decisions based on sound legal reasoning, while never forgetting my common sense.

I have thousands of hours of courtroom experience. No judge will ever be an expert in all areas of the law. Solid courtroom experience is the key to being an effective trial court judge.

Meyers, Franklin County solicitor: In more than 15 years of practicing law, I have gained experience and knowledge trying cases in Franklin and Fulton counties and other courts around the commonwealth. I have logged countless hours representing and prosecuting criminals.

Also, I have tried custody cases, and divorce, child and spousal support matters. I have litigated all types of civil matters, ranging from boundary and right-of-way disputes, contract actions, tax appeals and other matters that affect citizens.

I serve organizations like United Way, Mercersburg Rotary Club and Mt. Parnell Lions Club. I volunteer my legal services to religious and youth sports organizations.

Weisbrod, a Waynesboro attorney: I believe I should be one of the two candidates chosen by voters because I combine diverse legal experience, courtroom experience, and a history of providing pro bono services and community involvement.

My legal experience includes representation of clients in criminal, civil, family and estate law. Courtroom experience includes jury and nonjury trials and proceedings. I have appeared in counties throughout south-central Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme courts and federal court.

What can be done to improve efficiency within the court system?



Weisbrod: Much has been done in the recent past to improve efficiency within the criminal court system, including centralized preliminary hearings, scaling back granting continuances and stricter adherence to time limitations.

A greater emphasis on utilizing technology for information consolidation and sharing is necessary. Digitizing county office filings and providing the court instant access to data would cut down on postponements caused by a judge not having necessary information or making decisions with imperfect information.

Krom: Currently, there are groups in the county tasked with improving the efficiency of the court system. I have been part of these important groups. We have made progress.

The court must continue to support and participate in these efforts and encourage new ideas. We must be open to new solutions to old problems. We will never improve efficiencies with the position that "this is the way we've always done it." Specifically, to reduce recidivism, more treatment options are necessary.

Meyers: The courts and supporting offices need to be maintained in a centrally organized location. This is aside from proceedings held in the Franklin County prison.

Having courtrooms, judges' chambers and the Clerk of Court and Prothonotary offices split among various buildings will create unnecessary confusion for citizens, a duplication of services, delays and a potential need for additional employees.

Also, software can allow entire case files to be electronically stored and shared between the judges, clerks and filing offices to create a more seamless exchange of information.

Wilmot: The use of technology is important to the efficiency of our court system. For example, the use of video-conferencing not only saves transportation expenses but reduces security risks. Our courts could also be more efficient if we go toward a "one family, one judge" model as the general rule, which allows judges to have familiarity with the parties, saving preparation time and providing more consistency for the litigants.

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