Adam Beloff, a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge who died last week, was such a nice guy that you would think it was an act at first, said a longtime Beloff family friend, Municipal Court Judge Joseph Waters Jr.
But once you got to know him, you would realize he really was that nice, Waters said. “He was an incredibly humanistic person whose personal relationships transcended race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation,” Waters said. “He was just that kind of guy who appealed to everybody.”
Beloff committed suicide.
Beloff was known for an outstanding reputation on the bench, his judicial colleagues said.
“Lawyers would really go out of their way to say that he was doing a fine job,” Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe said. Beloff’s most recent assignment was hearing major cases arising out of the city’s South Detective Division.
“Judge Beloff had an impeccable reputation, and he was constantly striving to improve his ability to manage his caseload,” Waters said.
One example of how Beloff strove to improve justice was Beloff contacting a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that Waters is involved with to find out what he could do to assist defendants with substance abuse problems, Waters said.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, supervising judge of the trial division’s criminal section, said that Beloff had a reputation for fairness, efficiency, hard work, being a team player and being always interested in making sure “he got the job done in the best way he could.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who got to know Beloff when Beloff was running for judge and he was running to become the city’s top prosecutor in 2009, said that line prosecutors found him to be fair.
Williams said he came to really like Beloff and appreciate him as a person.
“It’s really sad just to lose him as a person,” Williams said. “I found him to be very kind and considerate and it’s very sad to lose a really good judge.”
Williams, who said suicide is a very serious problem in all aspects of society, including in the military where more people are lost to suicide than combat, said suicide makes people realize “we don’t know what they were going through. We just wish we could reach out to them.”
Woods-Skipper said that “ironically” this upcoming Friday’s judicial educational program is about stress management and is part of the message of “judges concerned for judges.”
Beloff’s passing is causing people to have “a lot of reflection and general sadness,” including about hidden signs of distress, Woods-Skipper said.
Beloff was elected in 2009 despite not having Democratic Party support. But Beloff secured the number-one ballot position.
In interviews with The Legal in 2009, Beloff said that his ballot position was not the most important thing in his judicial campaign. What was important, Beloff said, was that he had planned his campaign for over 10 years, including building a network, self-funding his campaign and building his resume to “really garner the votes of concerned involved voters.”
Beloff’s support varied from the Roofers Local 30 and Ironworkers Local 401, to the Muslim League of Voters, to the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
“I’m trying to win this election so my 82-year-old dad [Stanley Beloff] can hold the Bible for me,” Beloff said in 2009.
Beloff said he wanted to become a judge “before I knew what a lawyer was” after he was selected by his classmates at the age of 12 to be judge for a day in a mock election.
Prior to becoming a judge, Beloff, who was a certified mediator and arbitrator, practiced at family law firm Beloff & Hope with offices in Philadelphia and South Jersey. Beloff was a member of the Nicholas Cipriani American Inn of Court in Philadelphia and the Thomas S. Forkin Family Law American Inn of Court in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Beloff, a South Philadelphia native, attended George Washington University for his bachelor’s degree and he earned his law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich.
Details of funeral arrangements were not yet available Monday.