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Eleven newly elected judges officially took the Court of Common Pleas bench in Philadelphia today, as a judge appointed last year departed and a local attorney awaited confirmation of her nomination to the court. Six of the newly elected judges were already serving on the court, having been appointed over the last two years, said Judge James J. Fitzgerald III, administrative judge of the trial division. Judges Ramy Issac Djerassi, Lori A. Dumas, Joseph A. Dych, Leslie Fleisher, Jeffery P. Minehart and Nina Wright Padilla were appointed by the governor to fill vacancies on the court left by retiring or expiring judges. In November, the public voted for them to stay. The other newly elected judges who were not appointed are Judges Holly J. Ford, Brenda Frazier-Clemons, Joel Johnson Jr., Paula Patrick and Doris Pechkurow. Seven of the newly elected judges, Djerassi, Dumas, Ford, Frazier-Clemons, Johnson, Padilla and Patrick, were assigned to Family Court, Fitzgerald said. Judges Dych, Fleisher, Minehart and Pechkurow were assigned to the criminal trial division. Even with 11 seats being filled, there is still a vacancy on the court going into 2004. Common Pleas Judge Abram Frank Reynolds, 65, retired from Family Court in August, which was too late in the year to add his vacancy to the November ballot, Fitzgerald said. On Sept. 29, Gov. Edward G. Rendell nominated Susan I. Schulman, an attorney at Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby, to fill the vacancy left by Reynolds. Schulman, a Democrat, said her nomination papers have been sent to the state Senate, which must approve her appointment by a two-thirds vote. Common Pleas Judge Bradley K. Moss, a Republican, was appointed to the court last February but was not elected to a Common Pleas seat in November. His appointment expired at the end of 2003. Moss and another judicial candidate, Thomas Nocella, were the only two candidates who ran for Common Pleas seats in November on only the Republican ticket. Both were unsuccessful. (Moss was endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties but lost in the Democratic primary, he said.) Moss expects the governor to nominate him this month for a vacancy on the Municipal Court in Philadelphia since he was not nominated for the Common Pleas vacancy left by Reynolds, he said. “My expectation has and continues to be that I will be reappointed to the bench in the next month,” Moss said. Moss hopes that when another seat inevitably opens on the Common Pleas bench he can move back there — where he’s been serving in the felony waiver program of the criminal division – and run for a Common Pleas seat again in 2005, he said. “Having had this opportunity to be a judge has really been a dream come true,” Moss said during his last week. “I truly enjoy the job and hope I have an opportunity to do it again in the future.” Moss and Rendell were law partners when they worked at Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Kramer & Jamieson, which has since merged with another firm. Schulman also worked at Mesirov, where she met Rendell. She later served as special counsel to Rendell when he was mayor, who appointed her to head his Automobile Insurance Task Force in 1999. The task force studied ways to lower car insurance rates in the city, Schulman explained. When Mayor John F. Street took office, he continued the task force and kept Schulman on as special counsel. When the project concluded in 2001, Schulman joined Weber Gallagher, where her primary practice is in commercial litigation. Most of Schulman’s private practice experience has been handling plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and products liability cases, and in January 2002, right before Rendell became governor, he tapped Schulman to head his Medical Malpractice Task Force. Schulman served as executive director of the project for five months, during which it came up with recommendations for how Rendell should tackle the state’s malpractice insurance crisis. Schulman said she would be pleased if the Senate confirmed her nomination. “I think the courts are going to be looking forward to having some more judges to help them handle the caseload,” she said last week. Schulman, 48, moved to Philadelphia from Staten Island, N.Y., to attend law school at Temple. She graduated in 1980 and currently lives in the East Falls neighborhood of the city.

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