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Erie Lawyer to Argue Before En Banc Superior Court Panel

November 16, 2010, Erie, PA -- As an Erie lawyer who has made a career litigating and trying cases in trial courts around Pennsylvania, I'm pleased to be able to say that I rarely have occasion to appear in front of our Commonwealth's appellate courts. Most appeals relate to mistakes, real or imagined, at the trial court level and all involve time, expense and delay. So, for most lawyers, it's generally not a good thing to be in front of the appeal courts.

But every now and again a case needs to go up on appeal. Typically, appeals to the Superior Court are heard by a panel of three judges of the Court. Rarely, a case already heard by a three judge panel will be taken up by the Superior Court for en banc argument. En Banc argument is held before a panel of nine judges of the Superior Court and is held only when the judges of the appellate court determine that the case presents questions of unusual importance. In 2008, for example, there were 7900 appeals to the Superior Court and less than 30 were slated for en banc review.

On Thursday, I will be the first lawyer to argue before the Superior Court in its en banc schedule. The case is a complex one factually and legally, presenting interesting issues of the proper scope of judicial power as well as arcane questions of Orphan's Court jurisdiction and estate/corporate/trust governance. Admittedly, not my usual bailiwick but nonetheless a fascinating and rare privilege to participate in one of the least seen exercises of our appellate system.

I'll report again here Friday on what I hope will prove to be a challenging and rewarding experience.

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