Gantman Aims to Make Superior Court More Accessible as PJ

, The Legal Intelligencer


Appellate lawyers across the state said newly elected Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Susan Peikes Gantman has displayed a continuing interest in making the court more accessible and approachable both to attorneys and the public.

"Every time I argue before a panel Judge Gantman is on, she's responsible for bringing in either college students or high school students to observe," Willow Grove, Pa.-based appellate lawyer Howard J. Bashman said. "She's done a miraculous job of bringing in the public, especially young people, to observe the court in action."

Similarly, John J. Hare, chair of the appellate advocacy and post-trial practice group at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Philadelphia, said Gantman has always been accomodating to the law clerks he's brought with him to watch arguments, taking time out to speak with them after sessions.

"She's very good about sort of removing any mystery from the court and making it accessible to people so they understand how it works," Hare said.

Gantman told the Law Weekly that she believes it's "important that the public has confidence in the judiciary."

"We are an intermediate appellate court, an error-correcting court, and it's important that appellants and appellees believe they have an opportunity to present their cases fairly," Gantman said.

Robert L. Byer, head of the appellate practice at Duane Morris in Pittsburgh, added that Gantman was one of the early participants in the Superior Court's efforts to hold argument sessions in more remote locations across the state.

Byer said Gantman has also taken steps to make the court more user-friendly for the attorneys who practice before it.

"When she presides, the argument list is broken up by time periods, so lawyers don't have to wait an inordinate amount of time" to argue their cases, Byer said.

Gantman said she schedules cases in that manner to make it more convenient for appellate lawyers.

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