December 11, 2017
Chancellor Rebukes ‘Judicial Hellhole’ Label
In light of the recent report issued by the American Tort Reform Association, which designated Philadelphia as a “judicial hellhole,” Chancellor Deborah R. Gross issued the following statement on behalf of the 12,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association:
“We condemn this unwarranted and degrading attack on our courts, which undermines public confidence in our judicial system.
“Philadelphia’s courts are among the finest in the country. According to the 2016 First Judicial District Annual Report, approximately 90 percent of civil cases filed were disposed within 24 months of initial filing. Innovative programs, such as the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, Veterans Court, Mental Health Court and Project Dawn have been introduced to address the economic and social problems that plague our city. The Commerce Court program has a well-deserved excellent reputation for its expert handling of business disputes in a timely fashion, with 94 percent of its complex cases being disposed within 24 months of initial filing. The Complex Litigation Center had 6,196 cases pending in 2016, comprised of 5,601 pharmaceutical cases and 595 asbestos cases. These court programs and others serve as models that other court systems seek to emulate.
“Each year, thousands of Philadelphians – individuals, businesses, plaintiffs and defendants – rely on our courts to deliver fair and speedy justice. This special interest group is entitled to its opinion. However, words matter and so do perceptions.
“The attempt to diminish faith in our judicial system is an attack on our democratic process. As guardians of justice, it is our responsibility as lawyers to protect and defend the courts against this unwarranted and baseless label.”