Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Maureen Lally-Green on PCN

PCN Election 07

Judge Maureen Lally-Green
Republican for Supreme Court

Q: Why do you want to be a Supreme Court judge

ML-G: wants to use experiences and talents to better serve the public, diverse experience, addressing some of the issues that the court, at this moment in time, is supposed to address. Went to law school over 30 years ago, Duquesne, on law review, for 9 year in private practice, went into public service at Commodity Futures Trading Commission, then Westinghouse. In 1983 married and had 2 children, wanted a third. Part time work / flex time not available. Gave notice at work. Dean at Duquesne suggested I teach part-time, from 1982-1998, went full time in 1987, full professor of law in 1992. also a part time consultant to SC, worked on cases, drafting opinions for review, particularly in criminal law. In 1998 tapped to be on superior court, ran in 1999 and won.

Q: what was first statewide race like

ML-G: Interesting, had not run before. Had served on local zoning board. Many wonderful people advised me.

Q: What do you get out of meeting people around PA

ML-G: Education about them and what concerns them and also what they want from me as a justice on the Supreme Court. We talk about the court, how it works, answers questions but also ask them what they want out of the court.

Q: Most commonly asked question

ML-G: how hard is your job? So much of that is because my job is paper and they don’t see that work. Superior Court is on PCN and people watch the proceedings, see the questions we ask and interplay between lawyers and judges. How large is your caseload and how do you do it. How behind are you? Every case looked at fairly and impartially. I read everything.

Q: What do people want from a judiciary?

ML-G: want judges to be fair and impartial. Want to be treated with respect and dignity.

Q: Any changes you would like to see in the court?

ML-G: appointed by Supreme Court to a few committees. Race, gender and ethnic fairness, involved in working within the system to ensure fairness. In early 2000’s chaired a committee for the Supreme Court on gender fairness. Ways to improve treatment of women. Then appointed to a statewide committee, including grievance committee. Assure that everyone who uses the court system has an opportunity to raise a concern. Would like to continue that work. Always had an interest in children. Currently serves on a board in the Pittsburg area on children. Access to seniors and disabled. How to make it easier for seniors to access the system.

Q: was law your first choice as a profession

ML-G: majored in mathematics and took courses to become secondary education teacher, did student teaching, encouraged to take LSAT’s, did well, then went to law school

Q: what sparked that interest

ML-G: met a woman who was an attorney in Pittsburgh DA’s office, who encouraged me to go to law school. Also my parents, dad said give it a try

Q: as a practicing attorney what was most interesting and memorable case

ML-G: anti-trust case involving Westinghouse, monopolies, price fixing, lots of documents. Working in Westinghouse’s major litigation dept, eventually asigned over to counter claims, 3 or 4 years

Q: election vs appointment for judges

ML-G: appointment process has diverse group that looks at credentials, researches past, makes recommendation, no need for fundraising or campaigning. With election, for one year you are campaigning. Significant limits because of canons of judicial conduct, still doing what other politicians do, but do get to meet people, the time the public takes to talk with me and share with me.

Q: judicial activism? Decisions by courts or legislature

ML-G: judicial activism is somewhat intertwined with judicial independence. A judge is elected to perform a defined duty under the Constitution, serve as the person who decides cases brought before a specific court, based on precedent, law, and argument before the court In our system we value predictability in the law, precedent. My job is not to add or subtract words. A discipline process, my personal views should not come in. Personal views may play out in legislative or executive. Been doing this for 10 years on Superior Court. PA Bar Association did look at all the candidates running for office. They commented on my cases being fair and impartial. Judicial activism is sometimes going beyond what I just defined as the process what a judge should take and perhaps going into what the legislature should do. Judicial independence is threaded through our constitution. Two meanings, the three branches of govt have checks and balances, the majesty of the American system. Ability of the judge to make the hard decision and the public to respect that hard decision.

Q: what sort of cases does the Supreme Court hear?

ML-g: last court a PA citizen can go to unless go to US Supreme Court. Can be final word. Some cases go from Common Pleas to PA Supreme Court, some go through appeals, most are selected by the court, cases that impact the system across the board,

Q: how many seats open

ML-G: 7 Supreme Court justices, 3 positions on ballot, one is a retention, Saylor, plus two open seats. Justice Cappy announced he will step down by end of year, so that seat will be on the ballot in 2 years. Citizens paying a lot more attention to govt. Supreme Court cases may affect people in family law issues, etc. Public interested in openness and transparency in judiciary.

Q: Why should people vote for you?

ML-G: Depth and breadth of experience. Served the court in so many different capacities. Ready to do the job. PA Bar rated me highly recommended, their highest rating, noting experience and reputation for fair and impartial decisions and even temperament. Contribute to the citizens and improving confidence of citizens in the judiciary. I have the qualifications. Since 1772 only elected one woman on PA Supreme Court. Would like to be the second. The voice of a mom and a woman at the table. Thank you for the opportunity.

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