Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Offers Keynote At Pennsylvanians For Modern Courts’ 25th Anniversary Celebration

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a program honoring Judge Arlin M. Adams and featuring a keynote address from former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The event also recognized the invaluable contributions of Judges Phyllis W. Beck and Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. to the fair courts movement.

PMC is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair and impartial judges. PMC functions as a court watchdog, identifying and speaking out on issues that affect the public's confidence in our courts. PMC seeks to improve and strengthen the justice system in Pennsylvania through its three main program areas: judicial selection reform; systemic court reform and improvements; and public education.

“We are very pleased to see so many influential leaders join us to celebrate these remarkable judges and the work that PMC has accomplished over the past quarter century,” said PMC board chair Robert C. Heim. “Much has been accomplished, but there is still so much for PMC to do.”

Most recently, PMC helped shepherd a merit selection constitutional amendment into the Pennsylvania legislature with enthusiastic bipartisan sponsorship. The organization also works for stronger judicial ethics rules and speaks out on issues that impact the public’s confidence in our courts. PMC is a major source for information and analysis about the Pennsylvania judiciary.

“When PMC started, it focused on two goals: changing the way judges are selected and disciplined. Our work has expanded to include additional justice-related initiatives including systemic court improvements and public education,” said PMC executive director Lynn Marks. Prior to the event, Temple University Beasley School of Law Dean JoAnne A. Epps commented that “every entity needs someone or some organization to make sure they are doing the best that they can do. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts serves that role for the judiciary in the Commonwealth. It stands for the highest ethics and the greatest integrity and pushes our judicial system to be as good as it possibly can be.”

Judge Phyllis W. Beck said that “she is proud to be affiliated with an organization that encourages the judiciary to be fair, honest and transparent.”

Judge Spaeth gave PMC credit for being instrumental in effecting reform of the judicial discipline system. “Our court system benefits from an outside voice – often as partner, sometimes as critic. PMC fills that role. Together we work to ensure that everyone who goes to court is heard by the most qualified and independent judges.”

Judge Adams summed it up nicely. “Groups, such as the one assembled here, is what the founding founders had in mind. If we fulfill their predictions, there will be no stopping us.”

The event took place at the Crystal Tea Room at the Wanamaker Building in Philadelphia and was attended by more than 500 guests. The chairs of the event were David L. Cohen, Dean Epps and Mr. Heim.

Champion-level sponsors of the event included Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney PC, Morgan Lewis, Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis LLP, The E. Rhoda Shaten Charitable Foundation, the Independence foundation and Dechert LLP. For more information, contact Lynn Marks, executive director, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, at (215) 569-1150; cell (267) 475-2700, marks@pmconline.org, or visit www.pmconline.org.