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Prepared By: Chris Hall Phone/Email:

Campaign Manager: NA Phone/Email:

Candidate Name: Chris Hall

Campaign Address:

Campaign Email:
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____________________________________________________, certify that the information
provided on this questionnaire is accurate and the opinions stated here accurately reflect my own

Please complete, sign and return this via email in Word Doc format ​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.

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.

Thank you for taking the time to complete our questionnaire, and we look forward to your
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. “Procedural Justice.”​ Studies show defendants respect judgments imposed and

experience lower recidivism rates when they believe the process has been fair. It is a low-cost

solution to one of our society’s gravest problems: distrust of the judicial system. It requires

judges simply to demonstrate respect to individuals, afford a fair opportunity to be heard, and

explain their judgments. I would make “procedural justice” part of my courtroom’s DNA.

b. “Parsimony” in sentencing.​ As a criminal defense attorney for more than a

decade, I have advocated for the faithful application of the federal sentencing statute’s

“parsimony” provision. It requires judges to impose in a sentence “sufficient, but no greater

than necessary” to comply with the purposes of sentencing. 18 USC §3553(a)(1). I have

tirelessly advocated for fair sentencing practices during my 30+ years of criminal law practice.

The the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys has recognized me with its

highest award for advocacy – the ​Alan Jay Josel​ Award.

c. Re-Entry Services.​ I would follow the example of US Third Circuit Judges McKee

and Restrepo and would participate personally in the re-entry process by meeting with newly

released prisoners to support them as they re-unite with their families, search for jobs, and

locate affordable housing. Re-entry Programs reduce recidivism, promote employment, and

support families.

2. Do you feel that implicit bias plays a role in our courts? If so, how do you think it should

be addressed?

Yes. It’s inherent and must be addressed head-on. Judges have daily contact with prosecutors

and police officers in the courtroom and become familiar with their service as advocates and

witnesses. This familiarity can cause judges to give greater weight to the positions prosecutors

take and statements police officers make. This tendency, however, undercuts both “procedural”

and substantive justice, and judges must make a conscious effort to be aware of it, to resist it, and

to correct for it. The law requires judges to decide cases based on the law and evidence of each

particular case without preconceived notions of credibility. “Procedural justice”—my single

highest priority— directly addresses institutional and implicit bias.

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?

Judges have a special duty to call out and never countenance racist or sexist behavior. They take

an oath to uphold the law and protect the Constitution. Courtroom staff, litigants, juries,

witnesses and parties look to Judges to lead by example, and I will. In addition to leading by

example, I would admonish and then, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, sanction all

racist and sexist conduct.

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?

There is a bad apple in every barrel. Police are not alone. Lawyers, doctors, and politicians are

no different. All professionals have an obligation to uphold and enforce the norms that govern

their service. For the police, these are honor, integrity, and bravery. The courts have a special

role in addressing police misconduct that occurs in a courtroom because it cuts to the very core

of justice and the public’s faith in the judicial system. Judges must weigh the credibility of all

witnesses who appear before them, including police. In a bench trial, a judge can and should

make findings about police misconduct where appropriate, including a finding that an officer

who has engaged in misconduct is not credible. In a jury trial, a judge can and should suppress

evidence if the judge finds a police officer is not credible on a material matter bearing on the

admissibility of that evidence. Finally, if a judge makes a finding that police misconduct has

occurred, a judge should refer the matter for investigation by the Police Department Internal

Affairs Division, the District Attorney’s Office, and/or the US Department of Justice as


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?

The courts have an obligation to function efficiently. This means starting on time, coming into

court with a firm command of the anticipated legal issues, proceeding expeditiously, and holding

litigants to court schedules. Judges who start hearings on time, come prepared to rule on

anticipated legal issues, and who proceed expeditiously will do their part to reduce the need for

police court over-time.

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.

Yes and no. I have practiced trial law for 30+ years on both sides of the aisle (more than a

decade as a criminal defense attorney and more than a decade as a prosecutor) and I firmly

believe our jury system – guided by able judges – produces the fairest results in the world by

entrusting juries of peers, drawn from the community, and instructed in the law, to render fair

and impartial verdicts. When all parties in the system – judges, juries, attorneys, victims,

witnesses, and defendants do their part, the process is elegant. But we are not perfect. Victims

can be intimidated; witnesses, judges, juries and lawyers can suffer from implicit bias;

prosecutors (I was one once) can lose sight of their highest obligation – to do justice – in the

heated pursuit of victory; and defense attorneys (I am one) do not always bring their “A game.”

Finally, resources matter. I would adopt a number of practices to mitigate these inherent

deficiencies, starting with these three:

(a) ensure a safe courtroom, where all parties are respected, no aggression, racism, or sexism

(overt or veiled) is countenanced, and “procedural justice” prevails (see answer to question #1


(b) vigilantly guard against implicit bias (see above); and

(c) arrive every day well prepared, lead the lawyers by example, and interject where

necessary if a criminal defendant is under-represented by counsel to give life and meaning to the

Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

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

support successful community re-entry?

As I noted above, former Court of Common Pleas Judge Theodore A. McKee (now sitting on the

federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals), Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Luis Felipe

Restrepo, and United States Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice have pioneered and championed

the re-entry program in federal court. These judges meet regularly with re-entry participants in

small groups and facilitate the provision of job placement, financial​ ​planning, and healthcare

services by the Probation Office. The program lasts approximately three months and includes

peer-to-peer counseling and support (which I have provided at the request of Judge Rice), and a

ceremony to mark successful completion of the program. I would be that type of judge.

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 have had several incarcerated clients with whom I have developed a close professional

relationship, and have seen first had the negative impacts of incarceration – loss of employment,

the withering of essential family and social ties, and the degradation of cognitive functions due to

isolation. For these reasons – and based on widely accepted, peer-reviewed criminology studies

– I would adopted the principle of “parsimony” in sentencing. As I noted above, the principle of

“parsimony” calls for ​judges to impose in a sentence “sufficient, but no greater than necessary”

to comply with the purposes of sentencing: punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence.

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


A probation detainer prevents a defendant from being released after dismissal of an arrest

warrant, the granting of bail, or the completion of a sentence in an unrelated case. A probation

detainer should only issue in a case that presents a risk of flight or danger to the community.

And in all events the detention should be brief. Unnecessarily long detentions on allegations

which do not involve a risk of flight or danger to the community impose the twin evils of an

unfair deprivation of liberty and the waste of the public treasury on unwarranted incarceration. I

of course will keep an open mind and will carry out my adjudicative duties faithfully and

impartially if elected.

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?

The majority in ​United States v. Safehouse​ got it wrong; Judge Roth, dissenting, got it right. I

have practiced federal criminal law for 30+ years and cannot recall a statute more poorly worded

than subsection (a)(2) of the so-called “crack house” statute at issue in ​Safehouse,​ 21 U.S.C.

§856(a)(2). I have read the subsection innumerable times and can only read it as Judge Roth did

to make sense – that a defendant (and not a third-party guest) must have a purpose of

manufacturing, distributing or using a controlled substance to violation the statute. The result

advocated by the government and rendered by the majority makes no sense, ignores time

honored principles of statutory construction, conflicts with HUD policies, and promotes

disrespect for the law because of its strained and inconsistent logic (for example, the government

conceded at oral argument that Safehouse could lawfully operate a consumption room in a

mobile van but not indoors). There are two ways judges can avoid unfair and illogical rulings.

First, judges should faithfully practice due process, apply the “void for vagueness” doctrine, and

strike poorly worded statutes that fail to give fair notice of what is prohibited. Vague statutes not

only fail to give the public adequate notice, they also vest too much power in the hands of

prosecutors to decide what the law prohibits. Second, judges should faithfully apply the time

honored Rule of Lenity, by which the Supreme Court construes criminal statutes in favor of the

defendant. I of course will keep an open mind and will carry out my adjudicative duties

faithfully and impartially if elected.

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


When children are needlessly removed from parents, they lose not only a mother and father but

often their larger community of relatives, neighbors, teachers, and friends. The key issue is

whether the separation is necessary. Judges can best approach this by applying the “procedural

justice” techniques (see response to question 1) of respect, an opportunity to be heard, and a

well-reasoned explanation to all parties, whatever the verdict.

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

custody matter?

Judges ruling on custody issues must faithfully follow the law, be guided by the best interests of

the child, and attempt to preserve the family unit where possible. My sister is a recovering

alcoholic; her ex-husband is a recovering alcoholic and recovering drug abuser. They are both

superb parents, a superb aunt and uncle, and superb people. Judges must do the hard work of

digging into the facts (including parental drug and criminal history) on a case-by-case basis to

inform their judgments about the best interests of the child including the benefits that inure from

a functioning family unit.

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. The court’s role is (a) to leverage victim protection services, (b) to establish a safe and

secure environment in the courthouse, and (c) to follow the statutory procedures for the issuance

and enforcement of protection orders. Domestic violence is an insidious crime and requires the

judiciary’s full attention.

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?

Courts have an obligation to warn defendants about the collateral consequences of a guilty plea.

Guilty pleas to violent crimes, drug trafficking crimes, and/or crimes of “moral turpitude” trigger

the collateral consequence of mandatory deportation under our federal immigration laws.

Noncitizens must know these collateral consequences before they accept a guilty plea that might

trigger mandatory deportation. Judges should accept plea agreements – including immigration

neutral plea agreements – pursuant to the rules of criminal procedure so long as the defendant

knowingly and voluntarily enters into the plea agreement, and so long as there is a factual basis

for the plea agreement. I am the grandson of an Italian immigrant. My great-grandfather fled

prosecution in Italy, bringing my great-grandmother and grandfather here when my grandfather

was 12 years old. I owe all the my educational and professional opportunities to my

grandfather’s immigration as a young boy.

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?

I speak Spanish fluently, and have had the pleasure of numerous Latino and Hispanic friendships

and co-workers, including undocumented friends and co-workers, because of this shared

language. My life is richer for it, and my appreciation and enjoyment of foreign cultures would

inform my decisions as a judge. I of course will keep an open mind and will carry out my

adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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?

Judges should consider the history and characteristics of a defendant when imposing sentence,

including the mitigating circumstance of trauma. I would apply the “parsimony” principle when

imposing sentencing on all defendants. By this I mean that I would ​imposing sentences that are

“sufficient, but no greater than necessary” to achieve the purposes of sentencing. And I ​would

consider the most effective manner by which to provide needed educational or vocational

training and medical care, including all available non-custodial dispositions.

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


I have great respect for the Juvenile Law Center and Support Center for Child Advocates, and

annually donate to their funds. Their missions of thoughtful consideration of the vulnerabilities

of children and the goal of rehabilitation resonate with me. I of course will keep an open mind

and will carry out my adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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?

Housing insecurity, like food insecurity, is traumatic. Judges should practice “procedural

justice” techniques (see response to question 1) when presiding over eviction actions and

consider why Philadelphia has a higher than average eviction rate. Resources matter in legal

disputes, and judges should consider the impact of disparate resources when finding facts and

considering the legal arguments presented. Judges should work hard to bring balance to all

disputes by undertaking the task of digging further for facts and delving deeper into the law

where appropriate. The Philadelphia Public Interest Law Center has been doing a phenomenal

job working in the trenches, underpaid and understaffed, to address the housing crisis. The

world would be a better place if we had more people like them. I of course will keep an open

mind and will carry out my adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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. And because of hard work and sound values, this person has found stable housing for

herself and her four children, engaged in her community, and now enjoys both a sustaining job

and widespread support and admiration in her neighborhood. Knowing this person has validated

my faith in the human spirit, and affirmed my conviction that our society must provide resources

for people in need so that we can have more success stories like hers.

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

ultimately dismissed, an eviction ​filing b​ y 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?

Courts should give serious consideration to motions to expunge eviction filings consistent with

the PA Right to Know and other applicable laws. The collateral consequences of an eviction

filing – especially where the tenant wins – are grave and should weigh heavily in a court’s

judgment, especially where there are other less blunt methods by which landlords can assess a

future tenant’s credit and fitness. I of course will keep an open mind and will carry out my

adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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


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?

As a federal prosecutor, I brought the first predatory lending prosecution in Pennsylvania. The

perpetrators went to jail, and we reached a civil settlement with the major banks by which they

forgave more than $2 million. The prosecution and civil settlement paved the way for an even

larger class action by Community Legal Services. I have seen firsthand the devastation that

corporate debt collection can wreak. Debtors regrettably too often do not know their rights and

do not have the energy or experience to assert them. The judiciary can play a role on two levels:

in the municipal court, it can hear small claims that challenge debts and dismiss those where the

facts and law warrant; in the Court of Common Pleas (to which I aspire) the judiciary can hear

larger class actions brought by attorneys who aggregate victims abused by corporate debt

collectors, forming class actions. I was drawn to the law in part because it affords an opportunity

to protect victims and effect change. Predatory lending and its twin sibling of abusive corporate

debt collection lend themselves to legal redress. I of course will keep an open mind and will

carry out my adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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?

The criminal prosecution of predatory lending that I led (described above) concerned a scheme in

North Philadelphia’s Latino and Black communities. The ProPublica statistic provides further

evidence of systemic racism. The judiciary has two roles to play in debt collection. First, courts

hear and decide whether a debt is owed. This entails findings on whether the consumer (a) was

fraudulently induced into the debt, (b) knowingly and voluntarily entered into the contract, (c)

received adequate notice and an opportunity to cure, and (d) failed to pay due to mitigating

circumstances. Second, the judiciary plays a role in enforcing a debt. Again, courts should

ensure a fair process is provided, and should consider whether mitigating factors exist, including

the possibility of fraud and the impact on debtors and lenders. I of course will keep an open

mind and will carry out my adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected.

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?

Courts should be transparent and accessible to the community in keeping with the First

Amendment right to free speech and the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition

their government for redress of grievances. The sealing of proceedings and court papers should

be rare and should only issue to serve a higher purpose, such as protecting personal health

information, protecting personal information of a criminal defendant in presentence investigation

report by the probation office, protecting the identity of victims, witnesses and jurors who have

been harassed, or protecting trade secrets which would provide competitors with an unfair

business advantage.

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?

First, I do not expect to act inconsistently with the values I have expressed here. Full stop. That

said, the Philadelphia community can hold me accountable in three ways: first, I would want

anyone who came before me who felt I had not been faithful to my values to tell me publicly. I

believe in these values. I cherish them. I would want to receive this information publicly.

Second, I admire the organizations that make up the Judicial Accountability Table. I would

welcome any JAT member organization – and any other organization – to express publicly to me

any view that I have not been faithful to my values. Finally, any member of the public could file

a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Board free of charge. I of course do not expect to conduct

myself in any way other than consistent with the highest ethical standards, including the Code of

Judicial Conduct, the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges, and

the values I have expressed here.


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