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Prepared By: Elyshia E.

Sawyer Phone/Email:

Campaign Manager: Elyshia E. Sawyer Phone/Email:

Candidate Name: Michael C. Lambert esq.

Campaign Address:

Campaign Email:

Campaign Website:

I, ____________________________________________________, certify

that the information (Signature)

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

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.
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
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
Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project Networks 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?

My top three priorities as a judge start at being fair and just, making sure to uphold the

rules of ethics in the first judicial district to the fullest extent, while providing

compassion and empathy but still maintaining impartiality to ensure a non biased

courtroom . Secondly, it is imperative that once I am elected, I will utilize alternative

methods and an abundance of resources to help rehabilitate defendants who lack

education, financial stability, rehab, etc., in order to emphasize the individuality to each

case and that everyone does not grow and enter society the same, but still deserves the

same chance. Lastly, it would be a goal of mine to enhance patients and self awareness in

the legal world. For example, I believe it is difficult for someone who has never lived in
poverty or desperation to fully understand and judge the mindset and full capacity of

some of the defendants. However, simply asking more questions and personalizing each

encounter can make a grave impact on the defendants and decrease reincarceration rates.

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

be addressed?

Absolutely! People are a compilation of their experiences, and understanding that to be

the truth, means that there is bias in anyone.We address it by being able to step back and

recognize one’s personal bias so one can become self aware of the triggers. As a judge, it

is even more crucial that you are mindful of your own bias, but it is essential to recognize

the bias in others because judges have to be able to decipher the witness's credibility.

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?

Racial slur and sexual misconduct are two acts of disrespect, unprofessionalism, and

disgraceful behavior that will simply never be tolerated in my courtroom, or around me.

Although I cannot stop the acts of other adults, I will indeed reprimand them once

witnessed or made aware. Due to the fact that I myself occupy a marginalized identity, I

understand the ways in which oppression impacts those in a professional environment;

therefore I am able to identify acts of such and would condemn such behavior.

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?

One of the unintended repercussions that accompanied the new generation when social media

and technology rose to its popularity was the overbearing, once concealed, oppressive and

sometimes depressive truth; Police brutality as well as police misconduct is indeed a problem in

the criminal justice system. Thanks to social media and the multiple platforms of news streams,

the countless images and videos will continue to flood the networks making these remarks

indisputable. The role I will choose to play as a judge is to understand that police officers are still

humans and equally capable of being untruthful like anyone else, so we must look deeply into

any story told in a courtroom. What that means is my job is to remain cognizant of the fact that

someone testifying in front of me should not receive a benefit, and deemed credible simply for

the uniform that they wear to work. This actually means that I must pay closer attention to details

because the testimony received from police officers can be looked at as a “professional witness”.

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?

Unfortunately, this form of questioning is out of my power as an attorney and as a judge

because altering the philadelphia police department's budget is a decision made through

legislation and government. With that being said, better coordination does need to occur

so that if officers are not truly needed, they can be on the streets protecting and serving,

rather than sitting in the courtroom all day.

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.

The judicial system works when it is executed unbiasedly, ethically, and empathetically;

however this is not always the end result. I believe that there are ways to enhance more

positive outcomes when executing the law fairly in the judicial system. One way that

more just outcomes can be manifested and managed would be by including more

defendants, urban studies, and updating alternative sentencing classes for the mandatory

CLE and CJE’s that judges and attorneys take annually.

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

support successful community re-entry?

A successful re-entry requires not only motivation from the defendant, but ample opportunities

provided by the court to enable the defendant to fulfill their goals and transition back into

society. With a statistic like one and three and being an attorney, if I didn’t already know

someone who has been a part of the reentry process, then I have a friend or client that does, and

so do you! It is unfortunate but not uncommon for an offender to come home and mount the

same destructive and hopeless cycle that placed them in jail, if they are not given the proper

resources. One of a judge’s biggest responsibilities is to determine what role the defendant plays

in their own charges when sentencing. For example, very frequently defendants have also been a

a victim themself due to unproperly managed drug and/or alcohol abuse issues, mental health

issues, and physical and sexual abuse issues. When coping with one or many of the previously

stated issues, it is hard to make rational and heedful decisions. Therefore, a judge must be able to
decipher if a defendant should be in a correctional facility, rehabilitation center, or simply needs

higher education and a real job. The key as a judge is to learn your defendant, ask questions and

see how you can help them be successful when coming home. You provide options and then you

will find who truly just needed a positive push versus who really needed mental and emotional

help or imprisonment.

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.

As I alluded to previously, of course I know people that have been incarcerated. To

maintain my lawyer/client confidentiality and respect for my personal friends and their

endeavors, my primary focus for response is to shed light on how this advantage will

enhance my readiness and versatility as a judge.

People who enter jail for nonviolent crimes often return home with a harder future and

less motivation because they were given the latter instead of the much needed support to

become a positive pillar in the community. Having the advantage of knowing first hand

what jail time can do to one's family and witnessing the way one’s mental and emotional

capacity can be compromised from unjustifiable sentences, will encourage me to speak

less and listen more, to accurately judge each defendant's case.

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

While the reality allows probation officers the authority to levy detainers before a judge

will see it, this is a policy question that must be aimed towards legislation.

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?

I seek the office of municipal court, therefore it is not appropriate for me to hypothesis

about what a court of a higher jurisdiction would do. Having said that, there is no

question that the opioid crisis as well as other drug abuse is taking place throughout the

city and as a judge I will rely heavily on my resources to prioritize allowing all those in

my path an opportunity for drug treatment and encourage all of my colleagues to have the

compassion to do the same.

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


A judge must first determine if removing the child is the absolute best outcome for the child and
then decipher if there are any other safe and stable family members who can take over custody,

rather than sending the young one to foster care. The effects on a child growing up without a

parent or significant family figures are poignant, and foster care has statistically been proven to

drastically impact emotional stability and rational decision making abilities in their adulthood,

unless properly managed. A judge is one of the many people that are responsible to help assist in

a child's proper care and upbringing once removed from their families. One of the many ways a

judge can aid a healthy upbringing for the child is by providing a mandatory psychiatrist for an

extended duration of their youth to help them manage their emotions and presumable anger that

transpires during one's adolescent years. Depending on the case details, and under safe and

supervised circumstances, the child should also be allowed to see healthy extensions of their

families to assist in the emotional and physical transitions of foster care.

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

custody matter?

Drug history and criminal history are extremely pertinent when decoding a custody proceeding,

for it is imperative that the child ultimately resides in the safest and most supportive household.

For this reason, appropriate child protective laws require that specified evaluations and possible

counseling be followed for the parent who has engaged in these types of conducts to protect that

child, and I am a strong proponent for this procedure.

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?

First and foremost, the judge has to identify the underlying issues as to which are causing the

domestic violence issues. For example, alcohol abuse and drug addiction can be a prevalent

problem, as well as repressed childhood trauma. Under these circumstances, the court is

absolutely responsible for intervening in domestic abuse altercations by requiring anger

management classes, drug and alcohol abuse classes, couples counseling, or any other

appropriate remedial measure.

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?

Absolutely! As a judge, my job is to only intervene when I see the law not being upheld to the

highest extent or when the prosecutors and defense attorneys cannot come to agreement.

Therefore, in any instance where the entire court is in harmony, I will happily enforce plea

agreements that impose jail sentencing to avoid deportation.

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?

Absolutely! As a Jamaican-American and an immagration attorney, many of my clients and

acquaintances have come to me illegally begging for assistance on obtaining legal

documentation. I would take these experiences to the bench and execute the law the same way;

ethically and just. These encounters with my clients have helped me enhance my empathy and

compassion towards each individual, as well as patience when listening and having to understand

their dire need to stay in the United States, legally.

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?

Given my racial background, I can absolutely empathize with the statistics cited in this question,

and as a judge it is absolutely our obligation to take these trauma into account at sentencing. As

I've mentioned countless times before, it is the court's responsibility to utilize one's

socioeconomic status and all the court resources to fashion the best method(s) to rehabilitate any,

and all defendants, especially ones suffering severe trauma.

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


It is difficult to fairly respond to this inquiry because prosecutors and legislators get to decide if
children are subjected to the adult criminal justice system. However, having said that, age and

the specific makeup of each defendant shall always be considered in any decision I render on the


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?

This pandemic is all new to everyone, and as a judge I will follow the ever changing laws
created, trying to be as fair as I can to every litigant in front of me, while applying these ever

changing statutes.

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?

I have personal and professional experiences with evictions, and if I am fortunate enough to

become a municipal court judge, I will take these experiences with me to the bench to show a

compassionate resolution to these types of matters before me.

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?

All judges only have the authority to render in cases filled before them. Therefore, if a tenant has

a judgement that is causing them difficulty with finding residency, the tenant must then file a

report with the court to remove the judgment.

21. Are you a landlord? If yes, how many rental properties do you own?
No. N/A

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?

Default judgements are generally obtained when the defendant does not appear in court, unless

and until the defendant appears in court, there is not much that can be done. With that being said,

consumer lending cases that involve individuals who do appear, as a judge, I would require the

plaintiff to meet every element of their claim before allowing judgements to be entered against


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?

Again, as a judge I would only be allowed to address those cases that were before me, and

therefore, it is unclear how I could affect the demographics on the rate of consumer judgements.

However, given my background, I can assure anyone that my judgements will be guided by my

common sense.

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?

The constitution requires public trials so what happens inside the courtroom is accessible to the

public. However, I believe that judicial outreach is imperative to improving the public's

perception. To that end, as a judge I promise to participate in community outreach events to

enhance positive public opinion in the judiciary.

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?

The citizens of Philadelphia will always be welcome in my courtroom to witness how I intend to

serve the community and I am confident that positive election results will reflect my earnest


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