PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION OPPOSING LEGISLATION TO REDUCE THE SIZE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT AND PENNSYLVANIA SUPERIOR COURT

WHEREAS, equal justice under the law and access to justice are a fundamental commitment of government and essential to the proper operation of our democracy and our economy; and

WHEREAS, reflecting the size and importance of this Commonwealth, last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handled over 6,000 appeals, allocatur filings and petitions and the Pennsylvania Superior Court handled over 7,800 appeals; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 324, Printer's No. 2110 proposes to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from seven Justices to five, and cap the number of Pennsylvania Superior Court Judges at eleven, down from the current fifteen Judges; and

WHEREAS, the proposed reduction in the size of the appellate courts will increase the workload of each Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice by forty percent and of each Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge by more than thirty-six percent; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the Declaration of Rights, Article I, Section 11 provides that the all courts shall be open and that every person shall have the right to have "justice administered without sale, denial or delay;" and

WHEREAS, the proposed reduction will significantly limit the ability of the appellate courts to function efficiently and effectively, denying or delaying the delivery of justice to Pennsylvanians in violation of Article I, Section 11; and

WHEREAS, delays in the administration of justice caused by the proposed reductions will harm business in the Commonwealth, preventing litigants from using monetary reserves until disputes are resolved, thus delaying business investment and expansion, reducing economic output and decreasing state and local tax revenues; and

WHEREAS, delays in the administration of justice caused by the proposed reductions will harm individuals in the Commonwealth, increasing uncertainty and insecurity among civil litigants, delaying finality for criminal defendants and denying closure for victims of crime; and

WHEREAS, a decline in the operating capacity of the appellate courts will cause a reduction in the utilization of legal services, harming the business of law, which is a major economic driver in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, a reduction of the size of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Pennsylvania Superior Court will limit opportunities for diversity among members of the bench; and

WHEREAS, fewer judicial vacancies will result in costlier elections catering to special interests while discouraging qualified candidates from seeking office.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes Senate Bill 324, Printer's No. 2110, or any similar legislation that would reduce the size of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Pennsylvania Superior Court;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor's designee(s) communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position on Senate Bill 324, Printer's No. 2110, and any similar legislation to the Governor, the General Assembly and the public and take whatever action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: June 26, 2014