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MEET JOEL BIGATEL

Thank you for the invitation to post a statement on your website. For
my complete background and qualifications, I direct you to my
website www.BigatelforJudge.com.

To answer some of the issues which have been raised in the various
comments posted:

First, I do have an active law practice. It is that 28 years of experience personally handling every
the type of case that come before the District Court, coupled with the other experiences in my
background of that qualifies me for this position. No other candidate in this race has as
extensive experience, including the current Judge. I clerked for a Philadelphia Common Pleas
Judge shortly after law school and gained invaluable experience watching trials and assisting the
Judge in making decisions. I have sat as an Arbitrator since 1981 in the Common Pleas Court
Arbitration Programs of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties deciding civil cases with claims
of over 6 times the jurisdictional limit of the District Court.($50,000 vs. $8,000). I have been
trying and settling the vast majority of my cases in my private practice for 23 years.

Second. My commitment to my clients is presently my first priority. If elected, my duties to the


people of the District will become my first priority. I have already discussed with another
attorney 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 to
make 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-time


commitment.
In terms of scheduling District Court matters, I understand that the Common Pleas Courts
do give consideration to the Court schedules of the District Judges who practice before them in
scheduling court appearances. I am used to working on my practice well into the night and am
fully prepared to continue to do so such that the demands of the District Judge’s office always
have first priority.

Third. There is no significant issue regarding conflicts with present or former clients. My work is
predominantly in the Common Pleas Courts of Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. While I
am regularly retained to represent people in District Court matters, those matters are new
referrals from existing clients or other lawyers. Rarely have I been asked by an existing client to
represent them in a District Court matter.

In the event that a present or former client would have a matter before the District Court, I
would certainly recuse myself and the matter would be heard by another Judge, an occurrence
which 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 to
have matters coming before this Court. I would speculate that the odds of that happening are
equal to or less than the possibility of having to recuse from a case involving a party or attorney
of a party who is a former co-employee attorney at a large Philadelphia law firm, its support
staff or their spouses or children,

Fourth. I do not believe that the office of District Judge should be a political office. Somewhat
unfortunately, the process of getting elected is political. Hearing and deciding cases is neither
a Democratic nor Republican function. I did file to run in both primaries and believe that
while I am a Democrat, Democrats and Republicans should have the opportunity to consider
my qualifications to be their party’s candidate for the Fall election. I am not running in either
primary as a “stealth” candidate. My letters to all voters in this election, as they did in my
campaign for this office in 2003, make my party affiliation clear. They also make it clear that I
am 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 party
affiliation. In fact, in 2003 I received quite a few calls from Republicans who received my
letters who found it refreshing that a Democratic candidate would approach them for their vote
with full disclosure.

I recognize all too well from asking people for their signatures on my Nomination Petitions
that 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, including
their party affiliation, and shouldn’t have to go searching to find it. Such disclosure may be
politically 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 such
aspirations beyond achieving this position, serving as District Judge for as long as the voters will
have me and continuing to have a scaled down law practice. I am running for this office because
I 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 only
registered Republican running. The Democratic party interviewed the three Democratic
candidates and opted to have an open primary to allow the voters of the party to select their
candidate 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 with
her as opposed to myself and the other candidates and see her on a day in and day out basis. She
is a known quantity. I do not interpret that as a pro-police bias. To determine that one would
have to sit in the Court for every criminal case.

What is mildly disappointing is that the FOP chose to endorse without interviewing or at
least 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 service
nominee, 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
District Courts, I have worked with the officers and have been able to reach an agreement to
resolve the matter on terms agreeable to the officer, the defendant and the Court, without the
need for a trial. I hold no bias for or against any police officer nor would I have any such bias for
or against any defendant. The job of a Judge is to hear the facts of each case, determine
credibility on disputed issues of fact and apply the law.

I hope this is responsive to some of the issues raised.

Joel Bigatel