On the back of the ballot, there are five Judicial retention questions. Our recommendations on whether to retain these judges are as follows.
Jack Panella – Superior Court – YES
Victor P. Stabile – Superior Court – No
Richard M. Cappelli – Delaware County Court of Common Pleas – No
Barry C. Dozor- Delaware County Court of Common Pleas – No
William Chip Mackrides – Delaware County Court of Common Pleas – No
The Delaware County Democrats have recommended a No vote on the question of retaining our Common Pleas judges. This recommendation is not a criticism of the legal acumen or decisions of individual judges, but a response to the outdated administration of the courts. We believe that the administrative and operational reforms our courts need won’t happen without changing who serves as judges. Collectively, the judges control who works for the courts, when matters are heard and by whom and how the County has to expend resources to suit the personal convenience of the judges. The fact is the current administration wastes taxpayers dollars and provides an uneven playing field for County residents who come into contact with our Courts.
In Delaware County courts, victims of domestic violence are forced to wait for hearings in the same room as their alleged abusers. Detainees are shuffled back and forth to the courthouse – without appearing before a judge – because judges won’t take time to inform the prison and the sheriff about who is needed. This wastes staff time and taxpayer money. Unlike every other courthouse in Southeast PA, courtrooms are not wired for electronic communications, and still rely on paper, including carbon copies. Cases are delayed because individual pieces of paper are missing!
Our courts have doled out patronage even when it runs contrary to state law. Pennsylvania requires counties the size of Delco to appoint a juvenile detention oversight board made up of specified elected officials and members of the public. Delaware County ignored the state law for decades and left oversight of the detention center and the hiring of staff to the Court of Common Pleas. That did not change until allegations of abuse of residents by staff led to the closure of the facility.
Hopefully, this decision to recommend a “no” vote will either result in some new voices on the court, or some openness to reform – and help create the timely resolution of systemic problems with the administration of Justice in Delaware County.