In this April 16, 2017 file photo, Zoellener Arts Center hosted an applate session on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Baker Hall. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court provided a lunch-and-learn program in addition to a three-judge panel. (Samuel Henry/B&W Staff)

Commonwealth judges hold appellate session, lunch-n-learn at Zoellner

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Anne Covey, a judge in Bucks County, made it clear to students that there is not only one road to becoming a judge, in fact, she said they could major in anything and become a lawyer.

This sentiment set the tone for the lunch-and-learn program held after the special appellate court session of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in Zoellner Art Center’s Baker Hall.

The three-judge panel, consisting of Covey, Robert Simpson of Northampton County and Mary Hannah Leavitt, the president judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, facilitated the lunch-and-learn program where they spoke over a meal with students about what it’s like to be a judge.

The program, moderated by Lehigh’s general counsel attorney, Frank Roth, ’80, educated students from the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) on the legal and judicial profession, the impact of technology in law and each judge’s personal path to obtaining a judgeship. Labor relations, zoning regulations and separation of powers were just a few of the topics brought up in discussion.

“Listening to some of the arguments may have sounded dull, but the day-to-day schedule of a lawyer was great to see because though the judges sometimes get more attention, the work lawyers do is equally as important as that of a specific judge is in my opinion,” Matthew Goydos, ’20, said.

A court reporter was not in attendance during the session, however, information about the arguments and cases heard before the court can be found on the Court of Pennsylvania’s website.

All three judges explained how decisions on the cases heard in the session will be made in the next few months. The judges said there is no rigid timeline for deciding cases, but rather a loose set of guidelines that keep decisions within a set time frame.

Leavitt said that in the process of picking a panel of judges, it sometimes comes down to which judges are available at the time of the session.

“The event was planned in conjunction with the 231st Constitution Day on September 17,” Roth said. “Everyone was very enthusiastic about being here and we were excited to have them here.”

Before leaving for the day, Covey shared some wisdom with students and faculty about judging and the commitment it takes.

“The law is very time-consuming,” Covey said. “I have a real passion for the law and you have to be able to immerse yourself in the law, as a public servant, and be able to communicate it in a way that people can understand.”

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