Len Deutchman

Member since: Thursday, 07 February 2019
Last Visit: Never
First Name
Last Name
Campaign Cycle
Common Pleas
Sitting Judge
Email Address
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ballot Position
Button #
Bar Association Rating
Progressive Groups
Public Officials
News Papers
What has been the general nature of your practice?
For the first twenty years of practice, I was an Assistant District Attorney in the Philadelphia DA’s Office as well as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As could be expected, I prosecuted hundreds of jury and waiver trials concerning all sorts of crimes, but from the start I assigned complex matters which involved a robust knowledge of the law, detailed investigations and, quite frequently, arcane subject matter.
I started in the Law Division, writing countless briefs and arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts, as well as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. I submitted one brief to the United States Supreme Court, but did not argue the matter.
For several years I was in the Dangerous Drug Offender Unit, which conducted largescale investigations, usually involving multiple wiretaps. I oversaw the investigations and, in particular, the wiretaps, which was my first experience in combining my legal and scientific skills (I was an English Major as an undergrad at Penn, with a double minor in Math and Music, and studied computer coding starting in the early 1970s, when it was hardly well-known; I next received my doctorate in English Literature at U.C. Berkeley, but my dissertation focused upon the impact of Darwin on writers in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries). I became a recognized expert in the field of wiretap investigations, and wrote legislation which addressed the changes to the wiretap laws brought on first by pagers and, later, by cell phones. Almost all of the investigations I oversaw were matters involving multiple defendants selling or purchasing large amounts of illegal narcotics, and resulted in indictments in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. I prosecuted those cases.
My experience with police officers involved in long-term narcotics investigation led me to investigating the investigators, i.e., investigating police suspected of corruption. This experience gave me a perspective on criminal matters that few receive, as I learned, from talking to the street criminals and the corrupt law enforcement both, how and why they became involved in the crimes they committed.
I left narcotics investigations when computers began to be involved in countless crimes, and became one of the first computer crimes prosecutors in the country. In 1998, I was appointed Chief of Economic Crimes, which I was able to extend to Economic and Cyber Crimes. I brought into the DA’s Office several detectives with expertise in computer forensics and investigating computer crimes, and helped build the first computer forensics laboratory in a DA’s Office in the country. I oversaw innumerable investigations into largescale economic and cyber crimes, as well as other arcane criminal matters such as environmental crimes. One example of the latter involved many demolition companies contracted by the City to destroy abandoned properties throughout Philadelphia. Their contracts required that the remove all of the wood, brick, wiring, etc. brought down and deposit the refuse in an appropriate manner, for which work they would be paid, with all deposit costs refunded to them. The contractors, instead, buried the refuse in the basement cavities of the properties, which led to the ground being ruined by the refuse, as well as the collapse of properties built upon the sites where the refuse had been buried, which collapse was the result of the refuse shrinking over time as rain, snow, etc., came down on the properties. All in all, I became the prosecutor brought in when the subject matters of crimes involved scientific or otherwise complex issues new to law enforcement.
In 2005 I was recruited by one of my former cyber investigators (who had left law enforcement in 2003) to help start a company that provided computer forensics and electronic discovery services, the latter the gathering, review and production of digital files, almost always in civil matters. I was General Counsel, but I also oversaw projects, worked with law firms and other clients to explain the services provided, wrote expert reports, represented clients at hearings and trials when expertise was at issue, and testified as an expert myself in such hearings and trials. I was one of four starting members of the company; when I retired from it in 2018, there were over 1,200 employees and it was the largest such service provider in the country.
I have also taught and written extensively regarding digital matters. For over ten years I taught a course, of my own design, at Chestnut Hill College in digital forensics and electronic discovery; cyber investigators I knew well taught the technical aspects, while I taught the legal ones. I have presented countless CLE’s on many, many topics, including the authentication of evidence, the presentation of expert testimony, numerous criminal matters and, of course, digital forensics and electronic discovery. I have even presented on such matters to Philadelphia judges newly elected to the bench. Finally, for about thirteen years I have written a monthly column on electronic discovery and digital forensics for The Legal Intelligencer.
Why do you consider yourself qualified to be judge?
First, as I hope my answer to Question 1 substantiates, I have a deep understanding of both the law and its practice. I have done the legal research in many areas of the law for hundreds of briefs, have litigated hundreds of criminal cases and several civil ones, have testified as an expert witness and litigated matters involving expert witnesses, have taught hundreds of hours of classes to attorney and college students regarding many legal topics, and have written a column on electronic discovery for a highly respected, internationally read periodical for over ten years.
Second, my personal view of things and my legal experience has helped me see legal arguments from all sides. I have worked with law enforcement to investigate crimes and prosecute those responsible for them; I have also investigated corrupt law enforcement officers and so have seen, at a granular level, how such corrupt officers and twist facts or simply fabricate them to obtain convictions. I can, then, approach each matter in a truly neutral manner. I bring no prejudices into the courtroom.
Third, I believe that my experience with those addicted to, or withdrawing from addiction to, drugs and alcohol, coupled with my legal background as described, puts me in a very good position to be a judge, particularly regarding criminal matters. My oldest daughter has been involved in running in- and out-patient rehabilitation facilities since her college days some fifteen years ago. She now is the COO of a corporation that offers such services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Through her, I have met many persons in recovery and have learned what helps and hinders their recovery, and have developed a passion and, I believe, an understanding, of how to combine recovery treatments and re-entry programs with the demands of sentencing (e.g., that the defendant be punished for the crimes committed) so that both the defendant and society progress. I believe my deep understanding of the law, coupled with my passions to enforce it fairly and for the betterment of both society and those before me in court, are strong qualifications for the position of being a judge.
What is it about our criminal justice system that inspires you?
What most inspires me about our criminal justice system in Philadelphia is that we have not given up hope. It would be so easy to surrender to that temptation, for many reasons. Here are a few: we lack facilities that combine punishment with rehabilitation, and lack personnel to run such facilities; even with the drop in arrests following the ascendance of our new District Attorney, we still move cases through the system well too slowly, for several reasons (lack of funding, lack of attorneys to represent defendants at both the trial and appellate levels, lack of personnel at all positions in the criminal justice system, and so on); the level of recidivism can make the most positive of thinkers take a “lock them up and throw away the key” approach.
Yet, despite all of the reasons that many would argue that only a thoroughly pessimistic observer has examined our criminal justice system objectively, those involved in the system have not abandoned hope and work tirelessly to improve it. To me, this means that, even if those involved quarrel as to how to improve the system, they agree that improvement is what they want and are willing to put in endless effort in an attempt to achieve that improvement. This tells me that we are on the best path we can be on at present, even if it is not the best path in an absolute sense, that we will continue to improve the system, and that I should want to participate in that improvement by bringing my skills, knowledge and perspective to the bench.
What about our current criminal justice system do you believe needs to be reformed?
There are several things in our current system that need reformation. I will focus on the most immediate and important.
First, and overall, we need to see the system as part of our society as a whole and fix all of the problems that lead to the problems in the system. Too many persons are incarcerated, and the circumstances of incarceration tend to result in released prisoners more likely to re-offend than to “go straight.” The problem cannot be fixed simply by shortening or getting rid of this or than sentence of incarceration, as that simply leaves the person in the community or returns him or her with the same personal issues that led to the crimes that led to his or her conviction. Instead, we need to address all of the problems as a whole. We need to encourage families to stay together, in a healthy manner (i.e., not encourage the abusive father to remain beating his wife and children), and to encourage children to appreciate school, learn, and advance. We need in-patient treatment for all addicts and graduated release to the community when, supported by the treatment facilities, they can gradually become the better persons of their nature and learn to face and control the demons inside of them.
To accomplish the changes I have set out above, we will need law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and, of course, judges, all aware of all of these factors and able to do the best in all situations to provide the best remedy for a problem that surfaces in the form of a crime. We will need judges not afraid to sentence a defendant for a heinous crime but equally not afraid to commit defendants to therapy facilities when it appears that the defendant will respond to such treatment and the nature of the crime does not demand simply punishment. Of course, these judges must also be able to distinguish between the two scenarios.
We will need secure, in-patient treatment centers. “Security” must mean both that the patients cannot escape, and that inside the centers, they can trust the other patients not to be abused. We also will need demanding out-patient therapy to aid those released to re-entering society.
We will need to move cases quickly through the system, from arrest to judgment. One hopes that the changes described above will lead to fewer arrests, but even if that does happen over time, at first we will need more criminal justice personnel to move the cases quickly through the system; if and when the number of arrests falls, we can deploy personnel elsewhere in our large and needy government. We will need to move cases quickly from arrest to judgment because the lessons we want those arrested, guilty and beset with problems to glean will get lost if they simply sit in custody for months until they can appear in court for a few hours. Whether we are talking of children being punished, flags thrown during plays in football games, or complex schemes undertaken by adults in society, we all know that the longer the period between the commission of the wrong, the discovery of it and punishment or other treatment because of it, the less the wrongdoers will feel that what they did was wrong and try to make things better for those they have injured and themselves. Thus, we need to move matters through the criminal justice system far more efficiently.
We also need to insure that results will be similar regardless of the personnel involved. Prosecutors, law enforcement officers, defense attorneys, and anyone else with a stake in any criminal matter must believe that the same result in that matter will be obtained regardless of who the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. is. If they do not so believe, they will try to manipulate things so as to appear before a more favourable judge, to have a different prosecutor assigned, and so on. In the short term, the result will be that matters will take longer to move through the system. In the long term, the ultimate goals of the system – to insure justice to the innocent, and to sentence those found guilty so that they and society get the most from that sentence – will be stymied.
I have not addressed the present topic fully: to do so would take pages and pages. I hope that I have provided a cogent and nuanced overview of what I see needs reformation and how to go about it.
As a judge, what would your sentencing philosophy be?
Overall, defendants should pay for their offenses and also benefit from programs which should be in place to help them rehabilitate and so lessen the chance that, once released, they would commit crimes further. It is important to remember that paying for a crime is not antithetical to rehabilitation for drug or alcohol dependency that may have led to the crime but, in fact, a key part of rehabilitation; indeed, those who have benefited from rehab are usually the most keen to pay for their past mistakes, as such payment can be made only if the payor has successfully rehabilitated, and so such payment is a way a convict can convince himself or herself that he or she has truly been rehabilitated, and has not simply outfoxed their counsellor. As wary of trusting addicts as you or I may be, they trust themselves even less.
As far as mandatory minimums are concerned, defendants convicted of a crime should be sentenced within the statutory guidelines. Whether they should be sentenced at the low end, in the middle or at the top should depend upon the strength or weakness of the evidence which, taken together, placed them within that guidelines range. Obviously, if that evidence is insufficient to place them within a guidelines range, they simply should not be there.
Defendants convicted of crimes which carry statutory mandatory minimum should be sentenced to those minimums if the evidence is sufficient to establish the minimum. If the defendant presents evidence explaining why he or she committed the crime, the reason is understandable and would lead the court to sentence below the mandatory minimum were the minimum not required by statute, the defendant’s commission of the crime appears to be an anomaly (i.e., he or she has no prior criminal record or only one of minor crimes wholly different from the one for which he or she is facing sentencing), the court would be justified in sentencing below the mandatory minimum.
Overall, I believe that a sentence should be strict enough to assure the victim (and loved ones) and society in general that the criminal justice system has taken the offense seriously. It should also be fashioned to aid both society and the defendant, and I believe (as discussed particularly in response to Question 4, but throughout as well) that proper sentencing steps will benefit both.
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 have never dramatically awakened in the middle of the night thinking of a case and then concluding that, had I only done Y instead of X, the case would have ended with the proper outcome. I have, dozens (probably hundreds) of times, laid in bed, thinking of a case that is coming up or ongoing, and realizing that I should do Y instead of X, across the spectrum of reasons, e.g., to make the case stronger, to dismiss the case because it is targeting the wrong party, to make the case easier to present and clearer to the trier of fact, and so on. I then have gotten up, written my thoughts down (on paper, on my computer, etc.) and gotten a better night’s sleep than I would have had I not gone through the process.
Who are your role models and why?
If I had to choose a role model, it would be the late Dr. Merton, aka Michael, Gold, the father of friends and a second father to me. I will tell you about him and why he was my role model.
I grew up in the town of Lakewood, NJ, central NJ, a few miles west and south of Asbury Park (and yes, I knew Bruce Springsteen, from playing music - I played electric piano - with him a couple of times about fifty years ago, when he was the oldest kid in a group of friends who were musicians and I was the youngest). Mike Gold was the OB/GYN, the first one in the county (Ocean County). He was also the father of one of my closest friends, Danny Gold, who was the oldest of three boys, with Joey being the middle son and Stephen the youngest. I knew him through Danny.
Mike was born in Northern NJ, on March 9, 1921 (I knew this because when my father passed away and I had to give his dates of birth and death to put on his gravestone, Mike remarked that he was one year younger, to the day, than was my dad). His father was a compulsive gambler who squandered the family’s money. Mike had a brother who, ten years younger, could do little to generate any income when Mike was growing up in the Depression. So, Mike went to school and, after school and on weekends, worked several jobs, some on assembly lines, some in kitchens, and sometimes caddying at golf clubs. He was very, very smart, but could not see college as a path to take him to his future.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps (as it was known at the time) after Pearl Harbor and, because of his ability to do complex mathematical computations in his head, became a navigator on a bomber. On his fourth mission over Germany, January 30, 1944, he was shot down, and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. Because he was Jewish, he was placed in the “Ghetto Barracks,” worse than the standard barracks, with the threat of being taken to a concentration camp hanging over his head every day.
When he got back to the U.S. he enrolled in Cornell University, paid for by the G.I. bill. He majored in Chemical Engineering but was persuaded by the father a young woman he was seeing that Jews would not be accepted as Engineers. He ended up breaking up with the young woman and transferred to Columbia University. From there he went to medical school and through the post-graduate process to becoming a doctor.
He met his future wife, Charlotte, on a bus in Northern NJ. She came from a wealthy family and was an undergraduate at Gaucher College. They hit it off and got married after he completed his second year of medical school. Danny, my close friend, was born in 1953, Joey is 1957 and Stephen in 1960.
While he was a resident he looked for a place in NJ to establish a practice. The town of Lakewood looked promising and he noticed that an in-patient was from there, so he approached her and asked whether she thought it would be a good place for him to build his practice. She spoke highly of the town and that tipped the scale in favor of his moving there. The patient was, coincidentally, my mother.
As he built his practice he worked tirelessly, yet I always managed to spend time with him at Danny’s home. Mike delighted in playing boardgames with us, and when the circle of friends that Danny and I were part of grew into their late teens, we started playing poker, with Mike joining us. The love and interest I felt from him was extraordinary, and I began to observe that that was how he treated everyone and everything in which he was interested.
What I did not know about Mike until many years later was that from the day his plane was shot down until the day he passed, he suffered from PTSD. I did not see any of his symptoms, some because I was not in a position to do so (he would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, having had the same awful dreams of his imprisonment) but many because he did his best to confront those terrible memories. He went through his confrontation of these memories for decades before he was officially diagnosed, having the courage to face his fears so that he could find happiness for himself and bring it to others.
He included me in his struggle to face his fears by being my friend. I went through a period of terrible loss (my girlfriend committed suicide when she was seventeen and I eighteen) and he helped me deal with that loss. I learned from him what strength was, how sometimes it required you to ignore fears while other times to face them. I was able, sadly, to repay him, helping him through his divorce, and then through the loss of all of his children: Joey, from AIDS in 1987, with Mike having no problem accepting Joey’s sexuality; Danny, from cancer, in 2010; and, lastly, Steven from a heart attack in 2013. I was also able to share with him joy, particularly the joy of his marriage to his second wife, Linda, in 2004, and my marriage to my second wife, Joanne, in 2008, with him walking me down the aisle, my father having passed over ten years before. He was a second father to me, and when he passed in 2014, I grieved for him, and still do, as I do for my dad.
If you wish to read about Mike Gold, his story is one of three told by the Penn historian Thomas Childers in his book, Soldier from the War Returning.
What is your favorite book, movie, or tv show of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
My favorite film, by far, is Chinatown. There are many, many reasons why it spoke to me so much.
First, on an artistic level, it simply is a great film. The screenplay by Robert Towne (and, as someone who has written so much, I know and care more about screenwriters than virtually anyone else I know does) is widely considered the best ever written. The performances are remarkable, particularly Faye Dunaway’s and Jack Nicholson’s. Nicholson’s is probably the best he’s given in all of the many, many great films he’s made. In many films he is just over the edge (sometimes farther) in terms of his sanity: in As Good As It Gets, for example, he’s well over the edge, while in The Last Detail his sarcasm and disdain for those beneath him get him through the film and make his concern for the Randy Quaid character even more moving. John Huston’s performance is great. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is haunting, and well combines the music of the 1930s with that of the present (1974). Category by category, it is the best.
All of these superlatives made the theme of the film speak to me in a way that few films do. First, it explored what it means for something to be evil in a deep and touching way, not with caricatures (e.g., the mad bomber), but with real people. John Huston’s unthinkable rape of his daughter, and his daughter’s (the Dunaway character’s) love for the child produced by that awful action confronted me with evil I could not escape but ascribing it to overstated movie drama. The murder victim, Hollis Mulwray, husband of Faye Dunaway’s character, is introduced speaking to a City Council- type group in Los Angeles, and is not introduced with sympathy; it is only over time that the viewer learns how good a person he is, in loving and marrying Faye Dunaway’s character (fully aware of the rape, as he was John Huston’s business partner when it took place) and in caring about the greater good of the City in opposing the construction of the dam that is at the center of the film. I was eighteen when the film was released and I saw it, and I was overwhelmed contemplating this exploration of evil.
But the exploration of evil did not end with the families of Noah Cross (Huston the father, Dunaway his daughter and victim of his rape) and Hollis Mulwray (Dunaway’s husband). Huston’s desire to build the dam – after, as we learn from Mulwray when he addresses City Council, a previously-built, the collapse of a similar dam led to the deaths of many, many people – was a large step in the growth of Los Angeles. Mulwray tells Private Detective Gittes that the dam will have to sit on land which is not a part of L.A., and the way to make that happen, legally, is to incorporate that land into L.A. Thus, we watch how an arguably good thing – the growth of L.A. – is the product of unmistakably bad things, such as lies, payoffs and, eventually, murder.
Whether good can come from evil is the question posed by Chinatown. It overwhelmed me when I was eighteen and, forty-five years later, I am still wrestling with it. When, after a police detective has shot and killed Faye Dunaway’s character, and Gittes is stunned well beyond words, one of Gittes’ subordinates utters the famous last line of the film, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown” (“Chinatown” having been a neighbourhood in L.A. where, when Gittes was a police detective, its dwellers all made good appearances but evil behind the scenes was the norm), I knew that I could never forget it, and I haven’t.
Name a song that you were obsessed with as a teenager.
“Little Wing,” by Jimi Hendrix, as done by Hendrix and by Derek and the Dominos (Eric Clapton, Dwayne Allman and others).
What is you favorite number?
π PI 3.1415926535897932384626433...
NewsNo Result