The Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a class 2A county, is the 7th Judicial District of Pennsylvania. First established in 1683, it hears all Criminal, Civil, Family, and Orphan's (Probate) matters. The Court consists of fifteen judges, and is located in Doylestown, Bucks County Pennsylvania. It supervises all Adult Probation, Juvenile Probation (including the Bucks County Youth Center), and Domestic Relations services, the Law Library, and provides administrative services for a twenty-court system of limited jurisdiction courts (special courts) - issuing authority in all felony and misdemeanor cases, and hears all traffic and summary cases. It has concurrent jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy is less than $12,000. Source: https://www.buckscounty.gov/630/Common-Pleas
Partner, Begley, Carlin & Mandio, LLP, 2016-Present
Shareholder, Stark & Stark, 2013-2016
Mellon, Webster & Shelly, 2001-2012
McCann & Geschke, 1999-2001
Corr, Stevens & Fenningham, 1992-1999
University of Notre Dame, B.A. History, 1989
Villanova University School of Law, J.D., 1992
The most important quality in a judge is character. While character is an intangible trait, I believe it is an all-encompassing trait. A judge’s character is a compilation of his or her integrity, experience, and civility. Integrity is the strength to do what the law requires regardless of personal preference or outside influences. A judge in the Court of Common Pleas should have broad experience in many areas of the law because he or she will be asked to rule on cases in all areas of the law. A judge’s civility, how he or she treats people from all walks of life regardless of circumstances, is an indicator of his or her judicial temperament.
Both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantee all citizens the right to seek justice through the court system. While it is the role of the legislature to enact laws addressing legal access to the courts, justice requires a Judge to treat all people equally and fairly, with dignity, respect and compassion, by applying the law as written. One way to ensure equal access to justice is through the use of technology. The courts should explore the widespread use of technology to allow individuals to appear in court via videoconferencing when necessary. For example, some individuals have a difficult time obtaining transportation to court, or cannot arrange for childcare. Judges should be flexible and do whatever is necessary to accommodate individual needs to make justice more accessible for all. During the pandemic we have seen how videoconferencing can make the courts more efficient and accessible, and we should expand its use in the future.
I would recuse myself whenever there is the appearance of a conflict of interest. Recusal does not require an actual conflict of interest. The public must have confidence in the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and therefore even the appearance of a conflict should result in recusal.
The Thomas Smith Firm, P.C. (Newtown, PA): Owner, Partner 2009 - Present
Penglase & Benson (Doylestown, PA): Attorney 2007 - 2009
Zlock & Snyder (Langhorne, PA): Attorney 2005-2007
Howard University School of Law (Washington, DC): Juris Doctorate, Class of 1996
Duke University (Durham, North Carolina): Bachelor of Arts, History, Class of 1989
Integrity is the most important quality in a judge. The decisions Judges make have an impact that stretches beyond just the people in the courtroom; as a Judge it would be my responsibility to apply the law with impartiality. This quality is demonstrated through the many different facets inclusive of reputation within the legal profession. In my extensive family law experience I have earned the trust of clients and colleagues. I have also forged and developed relationships throughout the Bucks County community in my community service work. Integrity, coupled with knowledge of the law and ability to fairly apply the facts to achieve a well-reasoned result is of utmost importance for a Judge.
Most people hope that they do not have to see a courtroom in their lives; the legal process can be intimidating and this fear can prevent justice from being carried out. As Judge, I will treat everyone who comes before me with respect, empathy, and compassion. Off the bench, I will continue to educate my peers at the bar about bias and discrimination.
Throughout my career and my campaign, I have held myself and my colleagues to a high ethical standard. I would defer to the Commonwealth’s Judicial Conduct Code if a situation were to ever occur where I was presiding over the case that could be deemed a conflict of interest. As somebody who dearly cares for her family, I certainly would recuse myself from a case where a loved one was involved.