James Berardinelli

Member since: Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Last Visit: Never
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What has been the general nature of your practice?
Criminal Defense with a primary emphasis on homicide and major felony cases.
Why do you consider yourself qualified to be judge?
Having spent over 17 years as a homicide and special victims prosecutor before opening my current defense practice, I'm one of the few candidates in the race who has seen every aspect of the justice system from both sides. I believe these experiences have given me a great deal of insight into the problems facing the criminal justice system and how they can be remedied so that it works for everyone.
What is it about our criminal justice system that inspires you?
I've found the most inspirational aspect of the justice system to be cases in which defendants, through the help the system gives them and their own determination, are able to turn their lives around and become productive members of society as well as those cases in which the wrongfully accused are able to return to their families.
What about our current criminal justice system do you believe needs to be reformed?
Despite recent efforts, the justice system still does a horrible job diagnosing and treating mental health. During my time as a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have seen far to many cases in which defendants had multiple contacts with the justice system but were not diagnosed with mental illness until they committed a violent offense. Many of those crimes could have been prevented if they had received proper treatment during their earlier contacts with the justice system. As a judge, I would order full psychiatric evaluations for offenders in gun cases in hopes of helping these offenders receive treatment before their behavior escalates into violent offenses.
As a judge, what would your sentencing philosophy be?
I believe strongly in individualized sentencing that is tailored to give each defendant the tools they need to succeed. I also believe in redemption and giving people second chances. However, when defendants refuse to take advantage of those second chances they need to be held accountable.
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 pride myself on putting a great deal of time, thought and preparation into my cases. While I have had cases that had disappointing outcomes, I can honestly say I've never come away from one thinking I should have handled it differently. I have, however, had many a sleepless night while preparing for trial.
Who are your role models and why?
My two biggest role models are my father and my first boss, Justice Montemuro of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. My dad is a very kind and soft spoken man of few words, who taught me to treat every one with respect no matter what their station in life and that losing your head rarely produces good outcomes. Justice Montemuro, despite his powerful position, also treated every one with whom he came in contact with with dignity and respect.
What is your favorite book, movie, or tv show of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
Since I first saw it at the age of nine, the Original Rocky and it's message of courage, humility and redemption has always been very moving to me.
Name a song that you were obsessed with as a teenager.
Pink Floyd: Comfortably Numb (the guitar solos are what inspired me to become a guitarist)
What is you favorite number?
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