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Prepared By: Hon. Daniel R.

Sulman Phone/Email:

Campaign Manager: Janice M. Sulman, Esq. Phone/Email:

Candidate Name: Daniel R. Sulman

Campaign Address: 1500 Walnut Street – Suite 2000, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Campaign Email: Campaign Website:

I, /s/ Daniel R. Sulman, certify that the information provided on this questionnaire is accurate
and the opinions stated here accurately reflect my own positions.

Please complete, sign and return this via email in Word Doc format to and on or before February 13,

The Judicial Accountability Table (JAT) is a coalition comprised of Philadelphia community

organizations working to bring more fairness to our courts. The JAT’s platform is available at We’ve written this questionnaire to be values-
driven and focused on the issues most relevant to the people of Philadelphia, and we’ve made
our questions compliant with the Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.1 We ask that
you use no more than 250 words to respond to each question.
Thank you for taking the time to complete our questionnaire, and we look forward to your

Specifically the following section of 207 Pa. Code § 4.1, Political and Campaign Activities of Magisterial District Judges and
Judicial Candidates in General:
The making of a pledge, promise, or commitment is not dependent upon, or limited to, the use of any specific words or phrases;
instead, the totality of the statement must be examined to determine whether the candidate for judicial office has specifically
undertaken to reach a particular result. Pledges, promises, or commitments must be contrasted with statements or
announcements of personal views on legal, political, or other issues, which are not prohibited. When making such statements, a
magisterial district judge should acknowledge the overarching judicial obligation to apply and uphold the law, without regard to
his or her personal views.

As well as the following section of 207 Pa. Code § 4.2, Political and Campaign Activities of Judicial Candidates in Public

A judge who is a candidate for elective judicial office shall not make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect
the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
response. The members and supporters of the JAT include:
Reclaim Philadelphia ICE out of Courts
LILAC DecarceratePA
215 People's Alliance Free the Ballot
Philadelphia Bail Fund One PA
Philadelphia Community Bail Fund Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks
Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project Abolitionist Law Center
Amistad Law Project Democratic First Ward
Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration #No215Jail Coalition


1. What are your top three priorities if you are elected judge? A judge should demonstrate

competence in substantive law and legal procedure as well as industry and efficiency; a judge

should demonstrate integrity; a judge should be impartial and unbiased; a judge should ensure

the right for all parties to be heard; a judge should exercise patience, proper judicial temperament

and demeanor; a judge should treat all those who enter the courtroom room with dignity and

respect, regardless of their age, gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation,

immigration status or socioeconomic status; a judge should be compassionate. In addition to

demonstrating the above qualities, my top three priorities would be to: (1) implement required

annual implicit bias training and other non-discrimination training for all court employees; (2)

advocate for more judges to be assigned to the Family Court Division to reduce lengthy family

court backlogs and (3) advocate for implementation of a custody mediation program which

would provide parties a genuine opportunity to resolve difficult family law matters without the

burdens and challenges of prolonged and emotional draining litigation.

2. Do you feel that implicit bias plays a role in our courts? If so, how do you think it should
be addressed? Implicit bias not only impacts the court system, it impacts decision-making in all

human contexts. Judges should at all times be conscious of their own biases and work to ensure

that all individuals appearing before the court receive unbiased treatment. As of the year 2016,

all judges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are required to receive at least twelve annual

hours of Continuing Judicial Education (CJE). Judges should be required each year to have

certain number of educational hours on the issue of implicit bias in order to assist in mitigating

its impact on the important matters before the court. Personally, I have participated in multiple

implicit bias trainings specifically geared for the judiciary. Further, all court employees should

be required to receive annual implicit bias education.

3. What if anything would you do as a judge to assure that neither your courtroom staff nor

litigants are faced with racist or sexist behavior? As a judge with nearly three years of judicial

experience and two decades in public service, I endeavor to set an example for my personal staff

and courtroom staff each day by conducting myself in an appropriate manner by treating all

employees, counsel and members of the public with dignity and respect. In the event that a staff

member was to engage in racist or sexist behavior, I would not hesitate to address the issue

directly with the individual or refer the matter to the human resources department. Counsel who

engage in racist or sexist behavior will be addressed on the record before the court, judicial

sanctions would be considered and imposed if warranted, and that attorney’s conduct would be

referred to the PA. Disciplinary Board.

4. Do you believe police misconduct is a problem in our criminal justice system? How so?

What role, if any, do the courts have in addressing this issue? Courts should take cases
involving police misconduct seriously. However, courts do not control the hiring of the local

police force. It is my general understanding that internal police discipline in the City of

Philadelphia involves a police department Internal Affairs process and a contractual arbitration

appeal with little, if any, court oversight. Courts only become involved in a matter when

criminal charges are filed by the District Attorney or when a complaint in a civil lawsuit is filed.

With respect to criminal cases that come before the court, judges are in the unique position of

determining the credibility of witnesses and judges have the legal authority to render verdicts in

non-jury criminal trials. From that position, a judge in a particular case may determine that a

government witness has testified incredibly or engaged in inappropriate conduct against a

defendant, a conclusion that may lead to suppression of unlawfully obtained evidence and/or a

not guilty verdict. Judges also have authority to set aside convictions where appropriate in ruling

on post-conviction relief petitions. On the civil side, the judicially-created the doctrine of

“qualified immunity”, serves to protect certain government actors against claims of official

misconduct, and this defense to misconduct is the subject of much current legal debate across the

country, especially in light of the many recently reported cases of police violence across the


5. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other unarmed Black

people by police, Philadelphia protesters have criticized the outsized PPD budget while

communities face massive divestment of resources. A 2019 study from PICA suggested that the

city could save over $7 million by making changes to reduce police court overtime. What role, if

any, do the courts have in addressing this issue? While determination of the local police budget

is within the spheres of the Philadelphia City Council and the Mayor’s Office, the court has a
role in ensuring that public funding is not wasted by incentivizing questionable arrests or

prosecutions, unnecessary multiple listings of cases and/or lengthy delays in resolution of cases.

This would also have the effect of bringing greater efficiency, more expeditious resolutions and

cost-savings to the court system, while eliminating lengthy or unnecessary pre-trial detention of


6. Do you think our criminal justice system works? Why, or why not? If you think there is

something wrong with how it operates, name three ways you would work to change it as a judge.

Unfortunately, there are many instances in which the criminal justice system does not work for

all. A disproportionate number of criminal defendants are poor and/or people of color. Courts

should consider low or no bail where appropriate, promptly conduct trials for defendants who are

in custody and ensure that all defendants who are unable to afford counsel are provided with

competent court-appointed counsel. Courts should also consider alternative sentencing where


7. One in three Philadelphians has a criminal record. In your opinion, how can judges

support successful community re-entry? Courts should consider alternative disposition,

substance abuse treatment, community service and/or a probationary sentence in appropriate

cases, as permitted by applicable law. This would reduce the numbers of individuals receiving

prison time and diminish the numbers of those requiring re-entry. The local court system, as

well as the City of Philadelphia and the Department of Probation and Parole should support

successful re-entry by coordinating with both the private sector and the non-profit sector to
provide support to returning citizens such as housing assistance, education, vocational training,

substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment and job opportunities.

8. Have you or anyone close to you ever been incarcerated? If yes, please share how it

impacted that person or you, and how it would affect your work as a judge. If no, how do you

take into consideration the impact of the decision to incarcerate someone without having

personal experience. I know persons who have been incarcerated. Incarceration entirely upends

a person’s entire life and destabilizes their immediate family both economically and emotionally.

Even those who spent what some might consider a “short time” in prison suffer greatly and even

after release experience difficulty in rebuilding their lives. People who are imprisoned not only

lose their liberty, the lose their livelihood, their property and their ability to support their

dependents. The decision of whether to find a person guilty of a crime by a reasonable doubt

and then impose a sentence requiring confinement must be seriously and thoughtfully

considered. In sentencing, judges should take into account all of the legally required factors in a

particular case including mitigation factors and impose confinement as a last resort when less

restrictive sentences are either not appropriate or not permitted by law.

9. Individuals held on probation detainers account for over 50% of the city’s jail population,

and individuals are often held without signed judicial warrants. What do you think of this?

Judicial oversight is critical to ensure that the civil rights of criminal defendants are not violated.

Individuals should be not be detained without a judicially signed warrant.

10. Philadelphia is at the center of the opioid crisis. In order to prevent more deaths,
advocates have worked on harm reduction initiatives including needle exchange programs,

Narcan distribution, and overdose prevention sites. What can judges do to help expand and

protect programs to combat the opioid crisis and continue to reduce harm? How do you feel

about the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturning the lower court’s decision that made

safe injection sites in Philadelphia legal? Judges, consistent with the rules of the Code of Judicial

Conduct, should advocate for more court resources and programs to treat litigants with substance

abuse problems. Judges are in a unique position to not only identify individuals before the court

who are in need of substance abuse treatment, but to also issue court orders where legally

appropriate, to direct a party to necessary treatment. Judges should be able to recognize when

substance abuse treatment, not prison time, is an appropriate remedy. With respect to my

opinion of the recent 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision, a judge or judicial candidate is

prohibited from answering this question pursuant to Rule 2.10(A) of the Pennsylvania Code of

Judicial Conduct, which states that “[a] judge shall not make any public statement that might

reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or

impending in any court, or make any nonpublic statement that might substantially interfere with

a fair trial or hearing.” Further, under Rule 2.10(B), “[a] judge shall not, in connection with

cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises,

or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of

judicial office.”

11. According to a 2019 report from the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

(NCCPR), Philadelphia now leads the country in removing children and placing them in foster

care. What do you see as the long term effects of this? What can judges do about this? I have
nearly 19 years of experience in family law, serving as a law clerk in Domestic Violence Court, a

family law attorney, a Master in Support, a Master in Custody and as a Common Pleas Court

Judge assigned to the Family Division. Judges are responsible for the safety and well-being of

all children whose matters enter the court system. Courts should exercise judicial independence

and not rubber stamp the requests of the government or any party. Children entering the foster

care system due to abuse or neglect have been subjected to life-altering trauma. Placements in

unsuitable foster care may also be traumatic, if the placements are not properly monitored by the

Court and the assigned social welfare agency. While removal of a child from a household may

be appropriate in some instances, foster care placement should generally be the last option for

children – not the first option. In cases where removal is required, the Court should ensure that

the local child welfare agency complies with all of its statutory duties and locates an appropriate

family resource for placement of the child before resorting to foster care. As a family court

judge for nearly 3 years in Philadelphia County, my primary obligation is to ensure a safe and

secure living arrangement for all children.

12. How would you factor in a parent's drug history or criminal record in dealing with a

custody matter? Under 23 Pa.C.S.A. §5328(a) a court is required to determine the best interest

of a child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted custody consideration to the

factors which affect the safety of a child, and after considering the 16 legislatively-mandated

custody factors. A history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or a member of a party’s

household is another factor a court is obligated to consider. Further, under §5329(a), a court is

required to consider certain enumerated criminal offenses of a party or member of a party’s

household. As an experienced family court judge who has presided over hundreds of custody
trials, it is important to consider the actual impact that an adult’s history of substance abuse or

enumerated offenses has on a child. Each custody determination must be made on an

individualized basis, examining facts such as duration, recency or remoteness of substance

abuse, whether a parent has engaged in treatment, whether a parent is presently sober and how a

history of substance abuse impacts the present ability to parent and ensure the child’s safety.

Similarly, a criminal record must be examined on an individualized basis in each case with

respect to present ability to parent and ensure safety.

13. Have you experienced or known someone who was subject to domestic violence? What

do you think the court's role should be in intervening in such situations? Yes. I have nearly two

decades of experience in matters involving domestic abuse, including serving as a law clerk to a

judge who exclusively presided over Protection From Abuse (“PFA”) cases and serving as a trial

judge in domestic violence cases and custody cases involving domestic violence. Further, I have

specialized domestic violence training from the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. During the COVID-

19 statewide court emergency in 2020, I volunteered and served as an emergency PFA judge and

was subsequently assigned to tackle the Court’s closure-related backlog of PFA cases in need of

disposition. Philadelphia Family Court maintains a separate Domestic Violence Unit, which

assists petitioners in filing PFA petitions and the Court has also arranged to have the Sheriff’s

Department assist in the service of PFA orders on respondents. PFA filings are available 24-7,

via the Domestic Violence Unit during business hours or at the Stout Center after business hours

and on weekends. Under the law, a PFA case is initiated by an ex parte filing. After an

emergency ex parte hearing, the court typically grants an emergency protection order and then

schedules a hearing within ten (10) business days. Advocates from Women Against Abuse Law
Center are routinely available to consult with PFA petitioners. The Court’s role in PFA cases

should be to continue making filing as accessible to the public as possible, providing information

regarding resources for victims of domestic violence, making it easier for parties to appear either

in person or virtually for hearings and not burden parties with undue delays which prolong the

resolution of these difficult cases and sometimes discourage petitioner’s from proceeding with

their requests for protection.

14. Noncitizens may face mandatory deportation if convicted of certain offenses. Do you

think it is appropriate for prosecutors, judges, and criminal defense attorneys to work together to

resolve cases in ways that avoid disproportionate immigration consequences? Would you accept

immigration-neutral plea agreements and/or sentence defendants to allow them to avoid

deportation? In appropriate cases, yes.

15. Do you personally know anyone who is undocumented? If yes, how would this

experience shape your work as a judge? If no, how can you make decisions affecting

undocumented community members without this personal experience? Yes. A judge should be

cognizant of and understand both the primary and collateral consequences of his or her decisions,

including the direct impact on the participants in a case as well as their family members and

other loved ones. Many undocumented residents face unique and difficult challenges on a daily

basis, from difficulty obtaining employment to the fear of being potentially detained and

deported to a place they have left in search of a better life in the U.S. In my role as a judge, I

have had the opportunity to preside over a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) custody

case, where an undocumented teenager from a Central American country was reunited with a
parent residing in the United States. After determining that the child’s return to her native

country was not feasible, the custody order issued in this matter opened up a path to U.S.

citizenship for the child. Personally, this was one of the most rewarding and happiest

experiences in my tenure on the bench.

16. 86% of women who enter the Philadelphia courts have experienced some form of trauma,

and this is especially true for Black women. How would such trauma inform your decision-

making as a judge? Would you consider alternatives to incarceration for people who have

experienced trauma, and if so, what types of alternatives? What practices have you seen used that

you appreciate? I have nearly 19 years of experience in handling family law matters in

Philadelphia County, including presiding over custody and domestic violence cases as a trial

court judge. Further, I have specialized domestic violence training. I am attuned to trauma-

related issues and the impact that trauma has on survivors and their families. Initially, a judge

should conduct proceedings with patience, proper judicial temperament and a respect for the

dignity of all who enter the courtroom. A judge should also consider all legally relevant facts of

a particular case and issue all rulings consistent with applicable law, including mitigation factors

when sentencing. Alternative sentences are available to the court and should be considered in

appropriate cases, consistent with the law and facts of a particular case. These alternative

dispositions may include mental health treatment or therapy, substance abuse treatment,

community service and/or a probationary sentence in appropriate cases.

17. Current PA state law allows children under 18 to be prosecuted as adults in some cases,

despite growing efforts locally and nationally to remove children from the adult system. Do you

believe that children should ever be treated legally as adults? Please explain. What, in your
view, are the long-term impacts of incarcerating children in adult jails and prisons? The

Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge or a judicial candidate from making

“pledges, promises or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the

adjudicative duties of judicial office.” A judge should consider all legally relevant facts of a

particular case and issue all rulings consistent with applicable law. Pennsylvania Courts, after

Supreme Court rulings, have undertaken the re-sentencing of “juvenile lifers” (juveniles who

were originally sentenced to life in prison) and I am personally supportive of efforts to comply

with the appellate decisions in these cases. With regard to housing children in adult jails or

prisons, I personally believe that this is not an appropriate policy.

18. According to, in 2016 Philadelphia led the country in eviction rates at

3.84%, 1.14% higher than the national average. Today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,

unemployment is at a record high and an even greater eviction and foreclosure avalanche is

looming. Adding to the problem, there is a sharp disparity in representation between landlords

(who are usually represented) and tenants (who are usually unrepresented) in eviction disputes.

What would you do as a judge to stop the eviction and foreclosure crisis? How can judges

support the implementation of the Right to Counsel legislation to ensure fair representation?

Courts should employ diversion and mediation programs in eviction and foreclosure cases.

Judges are obligated to ensure that each party with an interest in a legal proceeding has the right

to be heard and judges are obligated to make impartial and independent decisions, regardless of

whether a party has the benefit of counsel or is unrepresented. If a party in a case has the right to

counsel, the Court is obligated to make that party aware of this right prior to proceeding and

make the appropriate accommodation. Courts are obligated to comply with all local, state and

federal law concerning eviction and/or foreclosure moratoriums.

19. Have you or someone close to you ever been evicted or foreclosed on? If yes, please

explain and describe how this experience would affect your work as a judge. If no, how would

you make decisions that impact the community without this personal experience? Yes. The

experience of having a longtime close personal friend lose his residence as the result of financial

difficulties has impacted my understanding of this issue and my ability to empathize with people

suffering from this hardship. As a trial judge, in every matter, I make a sincere effort to

understand the hardships of those before me and endeavor to demonstrate empathy and

compassion in rendering decisions in emotionally challenging cases involving families and


20. Regardless of whether the landlord or tenant ‘wins’ an eviction case or if the case is

ultimately dismissed, an eviction filing by a landlord leads to a permanent public record that any

future landlord can view online. There are close to 24,000 eviction filings a year and tenants

often have issues renting because of the record. What is the court’s role, if any, in addressing

this obstacle for tenants? The dockets of civil cases are matters of public record and under the

law, cannot be summarily deleted by a court. This issue would have to be addressed


21. Are you a landlord? If yes, how many rental properties do you own? Yes. My spouse

and I own one (1) rental property, a single-family dwelling which is our former residence.

22. The majority of consumer debt collection cases are filed by corporate debt buyers against

unrepresented defendants and result in default judgments. What is the role of the judiciary in

ensuring due process for unrepresented defendants in these civil matters? A judge is required to

ensure due process of law for all parties in all cases coming before the court. Prior to entering a

default judgment in a case, a judge should determine whether proper service of process of a
complaint did in fact occur.

23. In a 2015 analysis, ProPublica found that the rate of judgments stemming from consumer

debt cases was twice as high in mostly Black neighborhoods as it was in mostly white ones.

What role should the judiciary play in addressing these racial disparities?

24. What role should judges play in making courts more transparent and accessible to

members of the community? What will you commit to do if elected judge? I am committed to an

open and transparent court system that is accessible to all. The vast majority of matters

(estimated in excess of 80%) that I have heard involve parties who are unrepresented, and I am

extremely experienced with unrepresented parties presenting their case and having their day in

court before a judge who is willing to listen patiently. I support assignment of more judges to

the Family Court Division to end delays in child custody cases, implementation of a child

custody mediation program, an accessible electronic filing system for the Family Division and

use of virtual hearings where appropriate to ease time and travel burdens on litigants.

25. What avenues will the Philadelphia community have to hold you accountable to the

values that you express during your campaign, if you are elected? As a person with nearly two

decades of public service, I have a long record of accountability with no disciplinary history

either as an attorney or as judge. Further, I have never been overturned on appeal. Judges are

required to abide by the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct each and every day. Judges who

are adjudged to have violated the Code of Judicial Conduct are subject to discipline by the Court

of Judicial Discipline, which can admonish, suspend and/or remove a judge from office. Parties

who appear before a judge have the right to be heard and file appeals of trial court decisions to

the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Judges who are elected to a full-term are subject to retention

elections in which the public can vote to retain or not retain a particular judge.

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