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Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Sandra Mazer Moss is the second woman and the second common pleas court judge to win the William J. Brennan Sr. Distinguished Jurist Award, presented by the Philadelphia Bar Association yesterday, given for a jurist who has aided the quality of justice in Philadelphia. Moss, the civil division team leader of the judges hearing complex medical malpractice and products liability cases, was honored for her role as the founder and first supervising judge of the Complex Litigation Center and in streamlining the case management techniques used for mass tort cases, such as cases involving asbestos, breast implants and orthopedic bone screws, said John Soroko, the chair of the award committee. Those techniques have been adopted in other jurisdictions across the country, Soroko said. The award was first given in 1995 to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Moss said her husband, Bill Dean, a professor at Arcadia University, help her write the business plan for the case-management endeavor and helped her “believe in myself because he believed in me.” The mass tort bar, Moss said, were as key to the effort as her efforts and “taught me to be an activist judge and proud of it.” Moss also was a founding member of the State Judges Mass Tort Litigation Committee, the first national organization to develop common techniques to mass tort litigation problems and for eight years she was part of the standing committee of the Conference of Chief Justices. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy received the Bar Medal Award, which is given at the discretion of the Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor. Current Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton said the retiring justice deserves acknowledgment for his promotion of judicial independence; striving for a unified judicial system through the scheduled 2009 opening of a central home for the state’s court system and his push of an electronic clearinghouse for the court’s decisions and other activities; and working for judicial equity by working to create the Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness and commissioning its predecessor study. Cappy accepted the award on behalf of his staff and his colleagues who helped accomplish his successes during his tenure. The chief justice said that the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania bar associations were key in educating the public about judicial issues in the face of the campaign by the PACleanSweep political action committee and other committees seeking rejection of all judges up for retention in the fall election. “An informed electorate said no to the vote no campaign, and it was a joyous day,” Cappy said. Abraham “Abe” C. Reich was honored with the Wachovia Fidelity Award given to individuals who help improve administration of justice. Reich said he was donating the award to the bar association’s Raising the Bar campaign, which is raising funds from Philadelphia lawyers for the city’s public interest law groups. Joshua Mankoff, a student at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, was awarded the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Legal Writing Competition Award. - Amaris Elliott-Engel

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