Archive for September 2006

Presenza Named Winner of Brennan Award

September 21, 2006

Philadelphia Municipal Court President Judge Louis J. Presenza — whose leadership of that bench has been marked by a strategy of creating programs designed to deal with common offenses such as gun, drug and DUI crimes — has been named the 2006 winner of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award.


Philadelphia’s drug court was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania when it began in 1997, but since then, a number of counties across the state have followed suit.


Several years after its inception, Presenza’s pet project was saving local government millions of dollars in penal, medical and welfare-related costs, a study by the Drug Court Clearinghouse at American University concluded.


“It’s children not going to [the Department of Human Services]. It’s drug-addicted babies not being born,” Presenza, a past president of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, told The Legal in 2004.


“You’ve now got someone who’s out of jail, working, raising their children. No DHS. No welfare. Not using emergency rooms in the hospitals. There’s so many positive things that come out of this.”


Presenza is a graduate of Villanova Law School and St. Joseph’s University. Before becoming a judge, he worked as an assistant state attorney general and was general counsel for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.


Appointed to the Municipal Court in 1982 and elected soon after, Presenza in 1996 became the first member of the court to serve as supervising judge of its criminal division before his election as president judge in 1999.


When his first term as president judge neared its conclusion, Presenza sought approval from the state Supreme Court for a second run as head of the Municipal Court.


Technically, under the state rules of judicial administration, president judges of local state courts can serve only one five-year term and may not succeed themselves.


But in 2003, Presenza contacted the Pennsylvania’s justices about the applicability of a 1993 opinion concerning the Municipal Court, which is unique in the commonwealth in that other counties have district justices.

The 1993 precedent held that Philadelphia’s Municipal Court was exempt from the president-judge term-limit rule.


The justices told Presenza in 2003 that that opinion was still in effect and that he was free to run again.


In 2004, his colleagues re-elected him to a second term as president judge.

Presenza will accept the Brennan Award at the bar association’s fall luncheon on October 30 at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue at noon.


Past winners of the award include then-Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1998) and then-Chief Judge James T. Giles of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2000).


–Asher Hawkins, staff reporter


Local Lawyers Join Committee of Seventy Board

September 20, 2006

Political watchdog group Committee of Seventy elected Blank Rome Managing Partner Carl M. Buchholz and Sunoco, Inc. Chief Compliance Officer Susan Schmidt Pie to its board of directors.

Buchholz, 41, was elected as Blank Rome’s managing partner in July and has previously served as the transition team chairman and special assistant for Homeland Security to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002.

Pie has been with Sunoco for 25 years and was named the company’s chief compliance officer in January 2003.  She has handled commercial, transactional and litigation work for the company. She also acts as counsel for the SunPAC board.

Supreme Court Issues the Big One

September 14, 2006

Well, it’s finally here: the pay raise decision. Cheat sheet version: the judges win back their salary increase in a 5-1 decision authored by Justice Ronald Castille in a 100-page opinion.

The lone concurring/dissenting justice? Thomas Saylor, which will surprise no one. During oral arguments on the case, Saylor didn’t say a word, and given that he’s up for retention in 2007, popular speculation was that he would not be in the majority should the court rule to give back the judges their pay raise.

Is the court going to catch flak? Time will only tell — I haven’t even read the full opinion yet — although the court’s publicity arm is already cranking out press releases on it, which will no doubt be seen by some as an attempt to blunt any criticism.

For more on the decision and reaction to it, be sure to read The Legal Intelligencer Friday and Monday.

–Hank Grezlak, Editor-in-Chief

Pittsburgh Firm Expands in W. Pa., Ohio

September 12, 2006

Pittsburgh-based Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon has expanded its Western Pennsylvania coverage with the opening of an office in Sharon, Pa.

Richard F. Moroco joined the firm’s business practice group as a partner and will be the only attorney currently in the new office.

Moroco was previously in private practice and concentrated his practice on mergers and acquisitions, entity formations, venture capital finance, corporate governance and securities law.

In addition to his legal work, Moroco serves as managing partner of PTR Group, a Pennsylvania holding company with interests in metal stamping, deep drawing and precision tool and mold manufacturing.

“We are very pleased to have Richard join us as his extensive and varied experience will enable us to further assist clients with complex business matters, particularly those involving international manufacturing and supply chain issues,” firm founding partner William Pietragallo II said.

The new office will service Crawford, Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania and Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio.

Pietragallo Bosick currently has about 70 attorneys and has offices in Steubenville, Ohio, Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Weirton, W.Va., other than its Pittsburgh and Sharon offices.

–Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

DLA Piper Now Goes by Just That

September 11, 2006

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary is no longer… in the letterhead sense. The firm has officially shortened its name to what many of even its own lawyers always referred to it as — DLA Piper. The change, coming nearly 20 months after the triple merger that created the mutli-named entity, was made effective Sept. 4.  In the United States, the legal name is now DLA Piper US.

Joint CEO of DLA Piper, Francis B. Burch, said shortening the name was always a goal since the merger, but the firms wanted to maintain all of the names in the beginning to retain name recognition and equity associated with each individual firm.

“Our strategy is to establish a strong global brand that reflects the growing portfolio of recurring, high-level work we are performing today for major institutional clients across multiple geographies,” Burch said. “We believe our platform, combined with the breadth and depth of our core practice areas, provides a clear point of differentiation in the market.”

–Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter