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Meet Joel Bigatel, Candidate For Magisterial District Court 38-1-07

Meet Joel Bigatel, Candidate For Magisterial District Court 38-1-07

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Published by thereadingshelf
3rd candidate for judge LMT
3rd candidate for judge LMT

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Published by: thereadingshelf on May 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Thank you for the invitation to post a statement on your website. Formy complete background and qualifications, I direct you to mywebsitewww.BigatelforJudge.com. To answer some of the issues which have been raised in the variouscomments posted:First, I do have an active law practice. It is that 28 years of experience personally handling everythe type of case that come before the District Court, coupled with the other experiences in mybackground of that qualifies me for this position. No other candidate in this race has asextensive experience, including the current Judge. I clerked for a Philadelphia Common PleasJudge shortly after law school and gained invaluable experience watching trials and assisting theJudge in making decisions. I have sat as an Arbitrator since 1981 in the Common Pleas CourtArbitration Programs of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties deciding civil cases with claimsof over 6 times the jurisdictional limit of the District Court.($50,000 vs. $8,000). I have beentrying and settling the vast majority of my cases in my private practice for 23 years.Second. My commitment to my clients is
my first priority. If elected, my duties to thepeople of the District will become my first priority. I have already discussed with anotherattorney plans to take over a portion of my cases, handle new referrals, etc. should I be elected.There is no question that I could not maintain my practice at the present level. I am prepared tomake that sacrifice and adjust my practice to suit the demands of the office of District Judge.The position of District judge is considered a part-time position. It is however a full-timecommitment.In terms of scheduling District Court matters, I understand that the Common Pleas Courtsdo give consideration to the Court schedules of the District Judges who practice before them inscheduling court appearances. I am used to working on my practice well into the night and amfully prepared to continue to do so such that the demands of the District Judge’s office alwayshave first priority.Third. There is no significant issue regarding conflicts with present or former clients. My work ispredominantly in the Common Pleas Courts of Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. While Iam regularly retained to represent people in District Court matters, those matters are newreferrals from existing clients or other lawyers. Rarely have I been asked by an existing client torepresent them in a District Court matter.In the event that a present or former client would have a matter before the District Court, Iwould certainly recuse myself and the matter would be heard by another Judge, an occurrencewhich the District Courts are familiar with regularly accommodate.
 The majority of my clients do not live in this District and are therefore are extremely unlikely tohave matters coming before this Court. I would speculate that the odds of that happening areequal to or less than the possibility of having to recuse from a case involving a party or attorneyof a party who is a former co-employee attorney at a large Philadelphia law firm, its supportstaff or their spouses or children,Fourth. I do not believe that the office of District Judge should be a political office. Somewhatunfortunately, the process of getting elected is political. Hearing and deciding cases is neithera Democratic nor Republican function. I did file to run in both primaries and believe thatwhile I am a Democrat, Democrats and Republicans should have the opportunity to considermy qualifications to be their party’s candidate for the Fall election. I am not running in eitherprimary as a “stealth” candidate. My letters to all voters in this election, as they did in mycampaign for this office in 2003, make my party affiliation clear. They also make it clear that Iam not asking Democrats to vote for me simply because of my registration, but only because of my qualifications and trust that Republicans would not vote against me simply because of partyaffiliation. In fact, in 2003 I received quite a few calls from Republicans who received myletters who found it refreshing that a Democratic candidate would approach them for their votewith full disclosure.I recognize all too well from asking people for their signatures on my Nomination Petitionsthat many people decide who they will vote for based solely or primarily on party affiliation.That is their right. I also believe it is their right to know a candidate’s background, includingtheir party affiliation, and shouldn’t have to go searching to find it. Such disclosure may bepolitically imprudent but so be it. Can a candidate who is claims to be “trustworthy” and“independent” do otherwise?I am not running for this office to advance any political aspirations. I have no suchaspirations beyond achieving this position, serving as District Judge for as long as the voters willhave me and continuing to have a scaled down law practice. I am running for this office becauseI believe that I am best qualified to serve as District Judge and that I can utilize my years of experience, both in and outside of the law, for the benefit of the people of the District.Fifth; Endorsements-The sitting District Judge is endorsed by the Republican party because she is the onlyregistered Republican running. The Democratic party interviewed the three Democraticcandidates and opted to have an open primary to allow the voters of the party to select theircandidate for the fall election. Thus no Democrat is endorsed by the party.The endorsement of the Judge by the FOP should not be surprising. They are most familiar withher as opposed to myself and the other candidates and see her on a day in and day out basis. Sheis a known quantity. I do not interpret that as a pro-police bias. To determine that one wouldhave to sit in the Court for every criminal case.What is mildly disappointing is that the FOP chose to endorse without interviewing or atleast requesting qualifications materials or statements from all of the candidates. In addition,I heard the head of the FOP state a few years ago at a public meeting concerning a civil servicenominee, that the FOP does not get involved in political matters and does not endorse candidates.In virtually all of the criminal cases in which I have been retained to appear before the

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