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December 10, 2018

Chancellor Condemns ATRF’s Designation of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas as “Judicial Hellhole” and Placement of Pennsylvania Supreme Court on its Watch List

Chancellor Mary F. Platt issued the following statement on behalf of the Philadelphia Bar Association in response to the 2018-2019 report recently issued by the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF), ranking the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas sixth on its list of “Judicial Hellholes” and placing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on its “Watch List.”

“We condemn ATRF’s unwarranted, slanderous attack on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and watch listing of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The ATRF report contends that ‘Judicial Hellholes’ are ‘places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally to the disadvantage of defendants.’ Contrary to the ATRF report, judges in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas have an excellent reputation for adjudicating civil cases in a fair and timely manner. Check out the 2017 FJD Annual Report here.”

“ATRF also provides no basis for its claim that the judges are responsible for the large number of cases filed here. The First Judicial District is the largest of the 60 judicial districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and many defendants are sued here because they do business in this jurisdiction. While ATRF may not like the laws of Pennsylvania, its opposition to our state’s laws does not justify its attack on our court system. If ATRF disagrees with our laws, ATRF should lobby the General Assembly, not attack our court system for applying those laws.”

“Nor is there any merit to ATRF’s placing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on its ‘Watch List’ because ATRF claims the Court ‘may take a liability-expanding turn.’ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court applies our laws and adheres to our Constitution, and does not expand liability under our laws.”

“ATRF’s designation of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas as a Judicial Hellhole and the placement of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on its Watch List are nothing more than unsubstantiated attempts to undermine public confidence and faith in our court system, whose independence and impartiality are essential to the rule of law and our democracy. ATRF may not like the laws of Pennsylvania, but our state and local judiciary must and do apply these laws in a fair and impartial manner.”

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