Monday, May 23, 2011

Anne Covey on PCN

Anne Covey recently won the Republican primary to be that party's candidate for judge on the state's Commonwealth Court. As has many other judicial candidates, Ms. Covey was interviewed on PCN TV. The interview is available on their website, select PCN Plus, then election 2011. I encourage all voters to review the interview in full for themselves. It is about 35 minutes long.

I typed up rough notes as I listened. Ms. Covey speaks quickly and covers a lot of territory. It was impossible to catch all that she said; this is just a gist. In a few places I combined the answers to a few questions all into one answer. Where there is a quick follow up question that is often the easiest way to go. Often I just jotted down the main idea of her answer in an incomplete sentence.

I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions. Again, I encourage votes to listen for themselves.

Q: Anne Covey why are you running?

A: I’m at a point in my career where I’ve had years of experience and would like to serve the commonwealth in a diff way. Clerked for then President Judge David Craig on Commonwealth Court, serve on state labor relations board.

Q: Difference between Commonwealth Court and other state courts?

A: Can appeal to superior or commonwealth court, different jurisdictions. Commonwealth concerns matters relating state or local govt, regulatory matter; Superior court hear other matters

On labor relations board last several years. All appeals to commonwealth court, hears unemployment insurance, banking, whether or not an organization is a non profit. Commonwealth court is a workhorse.

To understand what an important court this is, the people’s court, all matters relating to everyday life, workers comp, labor relations, property zoning, very important that people vote for the right person

Q: What are some of the misconceptions about the court?

A: People thing the county courts of common pleas appeal cases to commonwealth then superior, but commonwealth and superior are the same level, just handle different types of cases

Must have highest integrity, must be impartial, high standard, I clerked in commonwealth court, we had two manuals, how to keep secretaries happy, at that point learning to go from longhand to dictating machines, the second is how to write property, opinions clear and precise. To know every opinion issued would have major impact on litigants’ lives.

Q: How will it feel to go from advocate to judge

A: As an attorney always represent client, now on labor relations board must apply facts to law, easy transition, last 8.5 years on labor relations board.

Q: what is involved being a clerk

A: not that many people are clerks because not that many judges. To have the opportunity is of high value.

Q: how long have you thought about running

A: from my perspective the highest pinnacle of being a lawyer is being a judge. Thought about it for years. Knew at age 8 wanted to be a lawyer. Goal for quite some time.

Q: on your campaign website you say you will not look to international law for precedent

A: as a judge we understand basics are the US constitution, judges in other areas looked outside US law for basis of opinions. We need to base on constitution

Q: other experiences

A: as a clerk, first female on labor relations board since its inception in 1937. Started own firm.

Q: what is labor relations board about

A: in disputes people write in and ask for exceptions, etc., look at letters, affirm, modify or reverse

Q: why law

A: law is foundation of country. Love history, give back, be part of society. Had passion for our whole life. Wrote a book on labor and employment law, written extensive articles, spoken on it.

Q: Can you trace that interest back to an event, what influenced you?

A: Abraham Lincoln. For a young female, not many female role models growing up, one day I thought I would like to be a role model. Read about Lincoln extensively, always looked to follow. One of my other goals was to be first female US Supreme court judge but Sandra O’connor older, got there first.

Q: education

A: Widener u school of law, went to University of Delaware, close to widener, good reputation, graduated #1 female, 4th overall. Undergrad, history and criminal justice with minor in political science. knew wanted to go to law school as an undergrad

Q: specialties in your practice

A; business, labor and employment law, advise firms how to hire, fire, what you need to look at, preparing employment manuals, matters that go before equal employment commission,

Q: memorable cases

A: you make sure every client is zealously represented, clients reported back they feel they are the only client that I have.

Q: what gives you an edge if you win?

A: no other candidate has served as clerk on commonwealth court, worked for president judge, held in high esteem by people in both parties. Set me on a path of holding a high bar for myself. Asked to write a law review article on history of the commonwealth court, on the court’s first 40 years.

Q: campaigning

A: This is my first race, working hard trying to meet as many individuals as possible, talk with them so they can ask me questions, find out who I am and what I’m about. Commonwealth court affects every resident, visited 40 counties in pa

Q: what are peoples’ questions, concerns

A: what is commonwealth court, background and qualifications, they are impressed and walk away saying thank you. I want individuals to know that I believe strongly judges should not legislate from the bench, don’t make laws, that is what legislators do. I believe foundation of country is US Constitution and of state is PA Constitution. Have endorsement of state party. Started in November going around state meeting people in party to tell them why I’m qualified. Received unanimous party endorsement, met so many people who are now supporting me. Appreciate support.

Q: PA Bar Association rating system, highly recommended, recommended, not recommended. You got recommended.

A: for that process you have to fill out extensive questionnaire. Interviewed by attorneys and non-attorneys, they contact references, etc. provide information to commission, 18 individuals, they do in person interview, delivery recommendation. Friend conducted research says sitting judges always get highly recommended because lawyers will be before those judges, people running first time get recommended. They ask many of the same questions you ask, why running, writings, media interviews, background information, see how you act in person, judicial temperament.

Q: does it make a difference to people?

A: people do ask how I’ve been rated, look at bar’s description of me.

Q: opponent Kathryn Boockvar, differences between you

A: Even though we both live in Bucks I don’t know her personally, can’t speak of her personally. I have no knowledge of what she’s doing for her campaign.

Q: differences, what is your edge?

A: the biggest edge I have is close connection to commonwealth court. Know the people there, Commonwealth Court is unique, known to be strong, hardworking court but judges get along. Been doing labor and employment law for 26 years, taught management training programs, good communication, good working skills, having clerked at the court, on labor relations board, know judges

Q: insight into being a judge on the court

A: being a judge on the commonwealth court, started own firm 14 years ago, have to learn how to manage chambers, in two locations, have to be available to meet with other judges, get their perspectives, get your own viewpoint across, many decided by a panel

Q: restoring public confidence in court after juvenile justice scandal

A: absolute nightmare and a travesty, makes judges work even harder. From my perspective in labor relation law, personal injury cases dry up then went to labor law, purely for the money, not why I went into the law, how society maintains itself. Have filed motions against opposing attorney for frivolous cases.

Q: published some works

A: my biggest work is a book that I authored, people say are you kidding me, only about 2% of manuscripts accepted, used to write a column, people write in for advice, took those columns and made them into a book. How to get along in the workplace, rights and responsibility, how book was accepted, there to reduce litigation, wrote a chapter in business: the ultimate resource, bestseller, going into 4th edition, wrote articles, editor of different journals, another plus that I have, not only hear cases but communicate by writing decisions.

Q: basic rights of employees

A: right to be hired regardless of sex, race, disability, etc. had people use crutches, learn what it’s like to have a hearing problem, so people learn what it is like. It’s equal opportunity not entitlement.

Q: what else, why vote for you

A: have shown throughout legal career, hard worker, understand importance of the law, people have the ultimate right to choose who the judge is, not to legislate from the bench, reviewed and scrutinized by PA GOP, by bar association, appointed by Gov schwiecker to be first female member of labor relations board, reappointed by Rendell, because of who I am not along party lines, quality of person.

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