Due to the retirement of President Judge Dobson and Judge St. John, the voters of Mercer County will have the opportunity this year to elect two new judges to sit on the Court of Common Pleas in Mercer. I would ask for your support in my efforts to become one of those judges.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who may not know me and reintroduce myself to those of you who do. As a long-time resident of Mercer County, a graduate of Sharon High School, Thiel College and Duquesne University School of Law, I have practiced in Mercer County for the past 34 years. I began my career with the firm of Halliday & Halliday in Greenville where I worked for two and one half years. I represented clients in a variety of criminal, real estate, estate, family law and business matters. In 1987, I joined the Sharon firm of Routman, Moore, Goldstone & Valentino as an associate attorney. In 1994, I became the firm’s first female partner and remained with the firm until its dissolution in December 2000. During those years, I worked with a number of corporate clients, handled many real estate transactions, and represented dozens of bankruptcy clients, assisting several local businesses with successful reorganizations under Chapter 11 and hundreds of family law clients.
Since opening my own office in January 2001, I have increasingly limited my practice to family law which includes matters involving divorce, property division, support, custody, grandparents’ custody, adoption and domestic violence. I appear in court multiple times each week, often on a daily basis. In 2005, then President Judge Fornelli appointed me as a part time Special Master for custody and divorce matters where I preside over custody and divorce conferences and, if needed, full hearings on divorce and property division issues. I continue to serve in that capacity.
Between 2008 and 2012, my firm which at that time included my associate, Lori Ross, served as solicitor for Mercer County Children and Youth Services. We gave legal advice, but more importantly appeared in court at every hearing held, representing hundreds of hours of court time and involving abused and neglected children of all ages. The families that we worked with suffered from a lack of education, drug and alcohol abuse and mental illnesses, problems that continue to plague our county with increasing severity.
I am a member of the Pennsylvania and Mercer County Bar Associations and have served as the chair of Mercer County Bar Family Law committee since 2000. I am a member of the Family Law section of the Pennsylvania Bar and the Solo and Small Firm section where I have served on the executive council as secretary since 2016. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. I have been trained in Collaborative Law and have been a member of the Collaborative Professionals of Northwest Pennsylvania since 2015. I have written and lectured for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in the areas of bankruptcy and family law and have presented seminars for local police departments on the interplay of family law in the criminal arena. I recently coordinated with AWARE to present a program to local attorneys and law enforcement regarding the changes to the domestic violence/PFA statute. I am a member of Athena International, a non-profit organization that seeks to support, develop and recognize women leaders across the globe and was honored to be the 2017 recipient of the Organizational Leadership Award from the Mercer/Lawrence chapter.
I have run my own business for eighteen years, raised two successful sons, will soon celebrate 36 years of marriage to my husband, David and have participated in as many community activities as my busy schedule allowed. More than all of these, however, it is my years of actual courtroom experience dealing with the people and problems that our judges face every day that has prepared me to take on this vitally important responsibility.
I will bring a new perspective to our courts – a new way of looking at issues and problems, a new way of solving them as well as the dedication, work ethic and temperament to pull it all together. I have seen the harm suffered by families as they experience divorce, domestic violence, financial downturns, drug addition, alcoholism, mental illness and victimization by the criminal element in our society. I will bring the same demand for accountability and responsibility to the criminal defendants and compassion for the victims who appear before me that I bring to my professional and personal life. As a wife, mother, daughter and sister, I am deeply concerned about the impact that our courts have on the lives of the citizens of Mercer County. As your judge, I will work tirelessly to assure that this impact is positive.