“None can usurp the height, but those to whom the miseries of the world are a misery and will not let them rest.” From Robert F. Kennedy’s Day Book
Surely, it would be easier for you to simply practice law. To represent your clients zealously. To prevail on their behalf. To win the occasional accolade from fellow members of the Bar. But we are so much more as trial lawyers, aren’t we? We are those to whom the miseries of the world are a misery, be the plight of a client and their family, the burning desire to reveal the truth about a defective product wreaking havoc on our communities, or the duty to protect future generations from these harms by working with legislators and judges to improve the law. This, as we know, is what it means to be a trial lawyer. We at PAJ honor your restlessness for justice wherever it may be found, in the courthouse or the state house.
And so we reflect, recuperate and re-invigorate for the battles ahead, to protect the Restatement Second from the Restatement Third. To demand full disclosure and complete accountability for defective ignitions in airbags which have killed and maimed adults and children in our communities. To go beyond the boundaries of the law into the body politic to aide and inspire a new Governor, while engaging the most conservative Republican majority in the Pennsylvania House and Senate of our careers. To endeavor to restore and maintain the luster of our state’s highest court while keeping focused next year on a historic election of no less than three new Supreme Court justices. As trial lawyers and members of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, we rise up to engage in these challenges for the good of our profession, our courts and our communities. But PAJ does not do the heavy lifting alone. We are joined by our colleagues from regional trial lawyer groups and our national organization, the American Association for Justice. This work is further strengthened by Lawpac, the bi-partisan political action committee of PAJ, which supports pro-civil justice candidates in statewide elections, along with your individual efforts in your community.
On Election Day, voters in Pennsylvania elected Tom Wolf Governor, making incumbent Tom Corbett, the first Governor not to be re-elected in the four decades since the state’s Chief Executive was allowed to run for a second term. It was exciting to be part of history being made.
However, voters’ enthusiasm for Wolf did not translate into success for his fellow Democrats in the Pennsylvania House and Senate. Republicans reversed prior gains in the state Senate and will command a 30 – 20 majority come January. In the House, Republicans will enjoy a 119 - 84 majority. These changes present new challenges and opportunities to build relationships with newly elected legislators and caucus leaders. You can help us by the contacts you have made, either through your law practice or community involvement. Below is a list of the new leadership in the House and Senate. Review it closely and if you can be of assistance with a newly elected member or leader, please email me at MMacGregor@pajustice.org and we will coordinate efforts with our advocacy team to reach across the aisle.
General Assembly Leadership: 2015:
Rep. Mike Turzai – Allegheny, Speaker of the House
Rep. Dave Reed – Indiana, Majority Leader
Rep. Bryan Cutler – Lancaster, Majority Whip
Rep. Bill Adolph – Delaware, Appropriations Ctte. Chair
Rep. Sandra Major – Susquehanna (part), Caucus Chair
Sen. Joe Scarnetti – Jefferson, President pro tempore
Sen. Jake Corman – Centre, Majority Leader
Sen. John Gordner – Columbia, Majority Whip
Sen. Pat Browne – Lehigh, Appropriations Ctte. Chair
Sen. Bob Mensch – Berks, Caucus Chair
Rep. Frank Dermody – Allegheny, Minority Leader
Rep. Mike Hanna – Clinton, Minority Whip
Rep. Dan Frankel – Allegheny, Caucus Chair
Rep. Joe Markosek – Allegheny, Appropriations Ctte. Chair
Sen. Jay Costa, Jr. – Allegheny, Minority Leader
Sen. Anthony Williams – Philadelphia, Minority Whip
Sen. Wayne Fontana – Allegheny, Caucus Chair
Sen. Vincent Hughes – Philadelphia, Appropriations Ctte. Chair
When governor-elect Wolf takes office, he will have the important responsibility of appointing two interim justices to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. PAJ will closely follow the selection and appointment of the nominees and keep you updated as the process evolves.
Finally, candidates will seek to fill three positions on the state’s High Court in the May 2015 primary. PAJ’s Future Leaders, led by Michael Davey, and our political strategist, Dan Fee, are working to keep our members fully informed by researching prospective candidates to best understand them and their judicial philosophy as we head into this important election. The most talented, ethical, and fair-minded court is our common hope for Pennsylvania.
Wish that we could let the miseries of the world rest, but it is not in our nature. Every day you advance our mission when you stand up for your clients’ rights, protect their families, ensure access to the courts, work with legislators in Harrisburg, and continue to hold our judges to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and fairness. You can and do make a difference in courtrooms and staterooms across this Commonwealth, never forget that and always recall:
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written in the history of this generation.”
Robert F. Kennedy, “Day of Affirmation.”
University of Cape Town, South Africa, June 6, 1966
Work with us to be the change you want to see in our Commonwealth and together, we will write the next chapters in civil justice.