With years of law experience and roots in the South Bethlehem community spanning back roughly 100 years, Anthony Rybak, a full-time public defender for Northampton County, is running for the magisterial seat in District Court 03-2-10 as a registered democrat.
The primary election will be held on May 18.
Rybak graduated from Liberty High School in 1983. His father was a lawyer in South Bethlehem for over 50 years and his brother practiced law in the area as well.
After graduating from Hamline University’s School of Law in 1999 and practicing law in the Midwest for a few years, Rybak came back to South Bethlehem in 2002 and has lived on the South Side ever since.
Rybak has been a lawyer for 22 years and has worked for the public defender’s office for the past 14 years. He said he has seen well over 2000 clients in criminal cases.
Previous to that, his private practice allowed him to work more civil cases.
“If you can do it in front of a magisterial district judge, I’ve done it,” Rybak said. “Including being found guilty of speeding.”
The experiences Rybak has had as a lawyer and as a South Bethlehem resident has allowed him to make connections with the community while working to defend individuals in court.
“He’s always represented the underdog in legal service circumstances,” said William Haller, ‘72, ‘75G the former associate chair for electrical engineering at Lehigh University and co-founder of LimnTech Scientific. “He’s always a fighter for justice and he’s well respected on the South Side.”
Under the rules, magisterial judges can clear certain misdemeanor cases if the defendant pleads guilty, Rybak said. In general, people usually take these cases to the Northampton County Court, a process that often takes more time.
With this in mind, Rybak said if he became the Magisterial District Court judge, he wants to propose a system to the president judge where low level juvenile offenders can go in front of the magisterial judge immediately if they plan to plead guilty. This process would be quicker and lead to children having important interventions before they could possibly add charges on top of their original one, Rybak said.
“If you knew how many kids I have with two or three sets of charges because it takes time to get them down in front of a judge in Northampton County,” he said.
Exterior to his work as a lawyer, Rybak is also a father of two children, ages three and five. With his children in mind, Rybak thinks the magisterial judge position would be a good role model for his children as they grow up.
Paul Bender, a lawyer whose primary work is in Northampton County has known Rybak for over 10 years. He said Rybak is very dedicated to his children.
“He’s a dedicated father first and foremost, but he’s a great person, a great attorney and he’s respected by all of his peers,” Bender said.
Overall, Rybak feels he would brings a long resumé of experience and a personal understanding of the community to his role as the magisterial district judge.
“I see it as a natural progression of my legal career,” Rybak said. “For the past 22 years, I’ve been basically serving my clients as well as I could … and I think I can bring all the knowledge of those years to bear as Magisterial District Judge.”