Kenneth Joel

Member since: Wednesday, 11 January 2023
Last Visit: Never
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Common Pleas
Sitting Judge
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1st Ward, 2nd Ward, 8th Ward, 9th Ward, 15th Ward, 18th Ward, 27th Ward, 30th Ward, 39A Ward
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Senator Nikil Saval
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What has been the general nature of your practice?
Since October of 2022, I have been a Common Pleas Judge in Philadelphia and am assigned to a Criminal Room. Before taking the bench, my practice was trial and appellate litigation in all levels of state and federal courts. I have significant expertise in constitutional law, civil rights law, election law, labor/employment law, environmental/land use law.
Why do you consider yourself qualified to be judge?
I am qualified to continue serving as a judge because of my experience and temperament.

First, I am currently a judge--having been selected and nominated by Governor Wolf and confirmed by the Senate. As such, I am already experienced in doing the job. I currently sit in a criminal room and every day I preside over all stages of criminal matters. My philosophy on the bench is to fairly and equitably apply the law to the facts presented by the parties. I do this by being prepared, asking questions, and allowing all participants to articulate their positions to me. I believe that truly hearing, seeing, and understanding the participants is a critical prerequisite to achieving justice.

Before taking the bench, I was a public sector lawyer for almost 15 years. For the nearly five years before becoming a judge, I served as a Deputy General Counsel for Governor Wolf and, before that, I served for over 10 years as a Chief and Senior Deputy Attorney General for a number of AGs including Josh Shapiro. For Governor Wolf, I fought against gerrymandered maps and successfully defended our fundamental right to vote. I also led efforts to defend Governor Wolf's and Secretary Levine's actions to protect us during the pandemic. While with the Attorney General's Office, I defended the constitutionality and legality of various laws and policies of numerous administrations (including Governor Wolf's and Governor Rendell's) including, most notably, the protections Pennsylvanians enjoy as a result of Pennsylvania's Funeral Director Law.

Third, before entering public service, I was in private practice for 17 years and, while I represented a variety of clients (individuals, municipalities, businesses) in a variety of substantive areas (employment, torts, and contracts), my focus was environmental and land use law where I protected communities and the environment from destructive development.

Fourth, I am committed to service and giving back. I have been a Professor of Law for several years and I developed and teach a class designed to prepare students for real world litigation. I also was tapped by the National Association of Attorneys General to teach newer Deputy Attorneys General on various aspects of trial practice. I have developed and given dozens of legal education programs including ones on civility and advocacy. I have been mentored by outstanding attorneys throughout my career and understand that it is my obligation to pay forward to the next generation of lawyers the skills I have learned over the past 30-plus years.

Fifth, I am Recommended by the Bar.

In sum, my career has always focused on protecting and serving people. I have both public and private sector experience and have represented a variety of parties in all stages of trial and appellate litigation. I am committed to service and I am honored to serve as a judge and would be honored to continue doing so.
What is it about our criminal justice system that inspires you?
The protection of people's constitutional rights and the opportunity to positively impact the lives of those who appear before me.
What about our current criminal justice system do you believe needs to be reformed?
Increasing pro bono representation opportunities to ensure that criminal defendants have the ability to tap various resources for representation.
As a judge, what would your sentencing philosophy be?
As a sitting judge, I decide all issues based on the law and the facts presented and sentencing issues are no different--I apply the law fairly and equitably to the situation at hand.
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.
Becoming an effective advocate requires one to constantly question one's performance in court--what arguments resonated with the judge or jury or did I press an argument that, based on the reaction of the judge or jury, wasn't working.
Who are your role models and why?
As a judge, I want people to leave my courtroom knowing that they were heard, seen, respected, and understood. The best judges I ever appeared before (whether my client won or lost) were judges who heard our position, understood our position, carefully considered our position, and thoughtfully applied the law to our position. Two judges who epitomize this for me are Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini and Senior Judge Sylvia Rambo.
What is your favorite book, movie, or tv show of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
Miracle. Watching a group of individuals come together and overcome adversity to achieve a shared goal is inspiring. Plus, I'm a hockey-dad.
Name a song that you were obsessed with as a teenager.
American Pie--Don McLean
What is you favorite number?
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