A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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The Honorable Thomas G. Saylor has been sworn in as Chief Justice.

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Thomas G. Saylor has been sworn in as the next Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court following the mandatory retirement of Ronald D. Castille on December 31. He becomes Chief Justice by virtue of having the most seniority on the Court.

Saylor earned a law degree at Columbia University in 1972 after college at the University of Virginia.

He was a Somerset County prosecutor, headed the state Bureau of Consumer Protection in Harrisburg and was a deputy state attorney general in 1984.  He worked in a Harrisburg law office before winning election to state Superior Court in 1993.

Saylor will be the second Somerset County native to be sworn in as chief justice in Pennsylvania.

Saylor beat Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Del Sole in the race for state Supreme Court in 1997, and voters retained him for another decade in 2007.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest).

The Weeks Ahead

January 6- 2015-16 Session of the General Assembly opens.

January 20– Governor’s Inauguration Day.

January 20– General Assembly Voting Session Resumes

March 3 — Governor’s Budget Address (tentative).

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest).

In Re: Extension of Pilot Program for Electronic Filing and Service of Motions and other Legal Papers in the First Judicial District Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division-Criminal Section and the Philadelphia Municipal Court-Criminal Section, No. 460 Criminal Procedural Rules Docket

Click for Order

In RE: Reassignment of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania to Another Division of Said Court, No. 327 Common Pleas Judicial Classification Docket

Click for Order

In Re: Order Amending Rule 1115 and 1116 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure – No. 252 Appellate Procedural Rules Docket

Click for Order

Rule 1115. Contents of the Petition for Allowance of Appeal and Rule 1116.  Answer to Petition for Allowance of Appeal

In Re: Order Amending Rule 2135 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure – No. 251 Appellate Procedural Rules Docket

Order

Rule 2135.  Length of Briefs

In Re: Amendments of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct and the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement – No. 132 Disciplinary Rules Docket

Order

Rules concerning conflicts of interest, attorney-client investment arrangements, discipline and attorney registration

NEWS RELEASE
Dec. 30, 2014
Supreme Court enhances protection of client funds invested by attorneys

HARRISBURG — Attorneys investing funds for clients will be subject to stricter standards of accountability under new rules adopted today by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

The changes, which enhance accountability when attorneys invest client funds, take effect in 60 days.

“The integrity of our legal system depends a great deal on the professionalism and accountability of attorneys,” said Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille.

“These new rules serve as a reminder that attorneys are obligated to live up to the trust people put in them by working diligently and honestly or face serious consequences.”

Among the important rule changes is the addition of a new Rule of Professional Conduct that prohibits a lawyer from brokering, selling or offering to place an investment for a client unless the attorney is licensed to do so, and as long as he or she does not have disqualifying financial interests in the transaction. Other key provisions require that financial records be more accessible to the attorney disciplinary bodies examining alleged misappropriation of trust accounts, and streamline the investigative procedures.

The rule amendments also promote the prompt and complete disengagement from the practice of law by a suspended or disbarred attorney found to have stolen or mishandled client funds.

A working group of representatives of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court helped shape and recommend the changes with public input. The work followed a number of high-profile incidents, including cases in which millions of dollars in losses were incurred by attorney’s investing client funds.

Although existing rules already provide for the suspension or disbarment of an attorney for misappropriating client funds, many clients are not fully compensated for their losses.

Amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement made today aim to curb such losses.Victims may file claims with the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security for reimbursable losses from a dishonest attorney. However, some claimants are not fully compensated because the maximum payout is capped at $100,000.

Pennsylvania has more than 65,000 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. Less than one percent of those attorneys are involved in misconduct investment claims.

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