STATE CIVIL COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
June 2, 2004
The meeting was called to order at approximately 12:20 p.m. by co-chairs Kathleen Wilkinson, Robert Szostak and Gregg W. Mackuse.
Kathleen Wilkinson welcomed everyone to the meeting and provided a brief update on matters, including the Committees continuing efforts on discovery issues. Ms. Wilkinson noted that the Co-Chairs had received letters concerning several topics that will be referred to the Discovery Subcommittee for further review. Ms. Wilkinson then requested Ron Kovler to provide an update on the effort to form a Litigation Section.
II. Update on Section Status
Mr. Kovler then provided an update on the extensive efforts being made to form a Litigation Section. A number of procedural issues have been addressed including a proposed name change to the "State Civil Litigation Section" and the drafting of by-laws for the Section. A new petition for the formation of the section will be prepared and ultimately submitted for the formation of the Section.
Robert Szostak then introduced the featured speaker, the Honorable C. Darnell Jones of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
- Overview of Commerce Program
Judge Jones initial remarks addressed the Commerce Case Management Program which is headed by Judge Jones, Judge Sheppard and Judge Cohen. As outlined by Judge Jones, the Commerce Program has an inventory of almost 1,000 cases with subject matters ranging from a restrictive covenant involving a small business to pension issues involving a bankruptcy involving extensive coordination between state and federal court. In this year alone, the Commerce Program to date has disposed of over 300 cases.
Judge Jones then discussed some of the major benefits of the Commerce Program, including: the ability to provide one on one services; the Courts availability to the litigants; the ability of the Court to resolve issues not normally addressed; and the important roles played by Judges Pro Tem in the process.
Judge Jones also identified new requirements of the Commerce Program concerning types of matters which now will be handled in the Commerce Program. Specifically, Judge Jones identified declaratory judgment actions, replevin actions, quiet title actions, bad faith actions for commercial policies and equity actions as matters which will now be in the Commerce Program.
Finally, Judge Jones noted that consideration as to whether the Commerce Program should be its own division in the court system was worthy of serious discussion given the success of the Commerce Program and the nationwide, and even worldwide, effect of resolution of certain matters in the Commerce Program.
- Personal Perspectives on Brown v. Board of Education
Judge Jones then provided the Committee with a rare and unique discussion of his personal perspective and experiences following the United States Supreme Courts landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. As discussed by Judge Jones, he was born and raised in Oklahoma and lived and experienced first-hand the concepts of "separate but equal" and segregation in all aspects of daily life, including: education, sports, and family life (including interstate travel). Judge Jones provided moving and uplifting remarks describing in detail numerous accounts of these personal experiences illustrating both the positives and negatives of life in the post-Brown era. Throughout his remarks, Judge Jones continually focused on the importance of education, a value fostered by his parents. At the conclusion of the remarks, the Committee members and attendees thanked Judge Jones greatly for his uplifting and poignant remarks.
Following Judge Jones remarks, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 1:25 p.m.
IV. Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held Wednesday, July 14 at the usual location at the Bar Association.
Gregg W. Mackuse