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; EndorsementsThe 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

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