Singletary's initial punishment from the CJD is only one of several instances where it seems Pennsylvania's judicial conduct system has operated two forms of discipline: a tough one for women, and a more lenient one for men.
Former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta was the first Pennsylvania judge not facing criminal charges to be removed from office, tossed out essentially for being rude to staff and litigants and having staff doing personal errands. Two of her tormentors, former Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., both of whom are now serving lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the Luzerne County judicial scandal, were never even charged by the JCB, even though it was tipped off to their activities years before the feds closed in.
Contrast Lokuta's fate with that of Philadelphia Judge Willis W. Berry, who was only suspended by the CJD for using judicial staff and resources to maintain his personal real estate properties.
Former Magisterial District Judge Maryesther S. Merlo was removed from the bench by the CJD in 2011 for being frequently late and absent from work.
But Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge James M. DeLeon was only suspended in 2008 for issuing a phony stay-away order without adding it to the record.
Those are just some examples. While I'm sure someone can find reasons to explain the different results, it's understandable why some believe the system gives women a raw deal.
Then there's the whole issue of women at law firms. We track law firm populations in Pennsylvania every year as part of our PaLaw Magazine. I compared the percentage of women at the 100 largest firms in the state in 2001 to the percentage in 2011, the last year we conducted the survey.
The results? Not much has changed.
Two firms in both 2001 and 2011 had 50 percent or more women attorneys. In 2001, 30 of the 100 largest firms in Pennsylvania were made up of at least 30 percent women attorneys.
In 2011, 34 firms were made up of at least 30 percent women attorneys.