November 20, 2001
Coveted Bar Medal to be Awarded to Former President Judge Alex BonavitacolaThe former Common Pleas Court President Judge Alex Bonavitacola will receive the Philadelphia Bar Association's coveted Bar Medal at the Association's Annual Meeting Luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at noon, in Marriott's Crystal Tea Room on the 9th Floor of the Wanamaker Building. In receiving the Medal, Judge Bonavitacola will join a distinguished list of previous recipients including former Governor Tom Ridge, former Mayor Edward G. Rendell, and the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.
According to Chancellor Carl S. Primavera, Judge Bonavitacola is being honored "for his lifelong commitment to the bench, the bar and the cause of justice." Primavera described Judge Bonavitacola as "a tireless champion of a fair, efficient and effective justice system. This is a public servant who has worked closely with the organized bar, with the other branches of government, and with all concerned parties who make our court system work for all the citizens of the city. We admire his achievements and owe him a great debt of thanks."
Judge Bonavitacola is a graduate of Temple University and Temple University School of Law (from which he earned his J.D. and LL.M. degrees). He was elected Judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 1973, retained in 1983 and 1993. He has served in the Trial Division, the Family Court Division and the Orphans' Court Division. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania appointed him Administrative Judge of the Trial Division of the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania on July 1, 1992, and he served in that capacity until December 1995, when he was unanimously elected by his colleagues as President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County to serve until January 2001. He is Past President of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and served as Chairman of the Education Committee for three years.
During his tenure as Administrative Judge of the Trial Division, Judge Bonavitacola implemented a novel and comprehensive civil case inventory reduction strategy (referred to as "Day Backward" and "Day Forward" Programs), which has received national recognition for the effective reduction of case backlog within the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. As a result of these efforts, in June 1996, he was presented with the prestigious Justice William J. Brennan Award by the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Golden Crowbar Award by the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.
In March 1996, by order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Judge Bonavitacola was appointed Chairman of the Administrative Governing Board of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania until January 2001. This Board is responsible for the day-to-day governance of the courts which comprise the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania: the Common Pleas, Municipal and Traffic Courts.
The Judge is married to Flora Jane Catalano and they have two children, Marc A., a pension fund investment officer with Hamilton-Lane and Portia A., an attorney for the Department of the Army, USA.