Anthony Kyriakakis

Member since: Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Last Visit: Never
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Common Pleas
Sitting Judge
(267) 422-2701
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What has been the general nature of your practice?
I would bring a balanced perspective to the bench, having served both as a prosecutor (2005-2013) and as a defense attorney. While serving in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, I focused on a wide range of criminal cases, from violent robberies and child exploitation to identity theft and white collar fraud. Now in private practice, I handle defense matters and have participated in several pro bono programs, including President Obama’s Clemency Project and as a Child Advocate through the Support Center for Child Advocates.
Why do you consider yourself qualified to be judge?
I have the legal experience, training, and skills necessary to serve as an effective judge. Over the course of my career, I appeared frequently in court and developed a clear understanding of the rules of evidence, courtroom procedures, and trial issues. I also have extensive legal writing experience, at both the trial and appellate levels.

Beyond pure legal experience, a candidate for judicial office should also present a strong record of integrity, as well as a commitment to fairness and the continuous improvement of our justice system. During my time as a prosecutor, my work was recognized several times for integrity and excellence. My sense of compassion stems in part from my own life experience, including as the only child of immigrant parents who sacrificed a great deal so that I could be the first in the family to attend college. With their help and support, I was able to attend Yale University as an undergrad before moving on to Harvard Law School.

I focus much of my community service to providing greater opportunities to the less fortunate, including through my work at Big Brother Big Sisters and at the Center for Families and Relationships. I also serve on the board of the University of the Arts, an institution that has nurtured the talents of generations of young Philadelphians.

I also have a record that reflects a commitment to the continuous improvement of our justice system. Over the past five years, I have taught courses at Temple Law and Penn Law on sentencing and the criminal justice system. A central theme of my classes relates to the importance of fairness in judging. Most recently, I began working as a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, where I have the opportunity to work together with a broad range of stakeholders to improve Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

As a judge, I would continue working to improve our system of justice. I would work diligently to ensure that every single person who walks into my Philadelphia courtroom receives fair, unbiased treatment within a system that meets the highest standards of integrity and justice. I would also embrace opportunities to work together with my colleagues to continue to bring systemic improvements to the court system.
What is it about our criminal justice system that inspires you?
I am inspired by the wisdom of the writers of our Constitution, who understood the importance of safeguarding the rights of the accused and imposing a burden that the prosecution always be required to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. I am also inspired by all of those individuals who work in our criminal justice system and strive towards those ideals of justice and due process for all.
What about our current criminal justice system do you believe needs to be reformed?
There are many areas of our criminal justice system that need desperate reform, a fact that has been recognized on a bipartisan basis both locally and nationally. For starters, we need to address the fact that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and that Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate among major U.S. cities. In many cases, our communities, as well as individual offenders, would be better served by sending non-violent offenders in for treatment rather than into a prison. That is one of the reasons I volunteered to join President Obama’s Clemency Project, where I worked with other attorneys to identify non-violent inmates that would be good candidates for early release. I believe that legislatures also need to reform statutes with mandatory minimums so that offenders are not punished disproportionately to their levels of culpability.

We also need to do more to ensure that similarly situated defendants are treated equally and fairly, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We need to reform our bail system so that the indigent are not held in custody simply because they cannot afford to pay what a judge might consider to be a low bail amount. We need greater checks against the misuse of prosecutorial power, as well as against the ineffective assistance of defense counsel. In short, we need to always be vigilant about protecting the rights of the accused as well as of crime victims, so that justice is done in each and every case.
As a judge, what would your sentencing philosophy be?
With attention to the facts and circumstances of each individual case, I believe that a judge should consider how a sentence would further the purposes of punishment, which include deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, and retribution. To minimize unwarranted disparities in treatment, judges should also give weight to the relevant sentencing guidelines. In instances where a non-violent offender is not a threat to the safety of the community and would likely benefit from treatment more than incarceration, I think judges should strive to impose non-prison sentences.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking about a case and wishing you had handled something differently? If so, please describe one situation.
I think all good attorneys regularly reflect upon how they could have handled parts of a case differently. In my view, that is one of the most important ways in which a lawyer learns and improves his or her advocacy skills. One specific area where this has happened to me is with respect to cross-examination. There is often a temptation to ask more questions of a hostile witness than is necessary or effective. In fact, very successful cross-examinations can quickly transform into unsuccessful ones simply because an attorney cannot resist asking another couple of unnecessary questions. Over time, I learned that the best attorneys are those that have faith and trust in the wisdom of the jury to evaluate the evidence, including with respect to the credibility of a witness.
Who are your role models and why?
My parents will always be my greatest role models. With little more than a suitcase, they immigrated to our country based on their belief in the promise of America and its values. They worked tirelessly to build and support their local community, and to give greater opportunities to the next generation. From them, I learned the importance to treating every person with kindness, sympathy, and respect—values that I would bring with me into the courtroom.
What is your favorite book, movie, or tv show of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
For much of my young life, my favorite movie (which I watched countless times) was The Karate Kid (starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita). Looking back at it now, I think it had important lessons to impart. First, it reflected the immense power that a good friendship could have on another person’s life. Second, it demonstrated how hard work and dedication could bring within reach that which might at first seem unattainable. And third, it showed that even an awkward, only child like me had a chance of ending up with someone like Elizabeth Shue!
Name a song that you were obsessed with as a teenager.
“Jump” by Kris Kross (it's still catchy!)
What is you favorite number?
"1" has grown on me in recent weeks.
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