Politics & Government

Voters Guide May 2019: District judge races

District 49-01-01

Candidates (vote for one):

Donald M. Hahn

Party: D/R

Date of Birth: Oct. 20, 1964

Education: B.A., Penn State, 1987; and J.D., Villanova University School of Law, 1992.

Qualifications: member, State College Borough Council (1996-1999, 2006-2013); recipient, Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award (2003, 2013); president, State College Borough Council (2012-2013); president, Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association (2015-2016); mayor of State College (2018 to present)

Q: If elected, what will be your three top priorities, and how will you address them?

A: As magisterial district judge, my top priority would be to maintain the high level of service, fairness and justice that State College has come to expect from Judge Carmine Prestia and from Judge Clifford Yorks before him. As an attorney since 1992, I have appeared before many judges and intend to emulate those whom I encountered who are patient, inquisitive, transparent and thoughtful. I would also like to promote restorative justice and greater access to translators. Restorative justice would help educate young summary offenders about the consequences of their actions and give them an opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of their victims and the community. Greater access to translators would seek to help even the scales of justice for our growing international community, who may be otherwise handicapped by a limited knowledge of English.

District 49-03-02

Candidates (vote for one):

Kelley Gillette-Walker

Party: D/R

Education: Diploma, Bald Eagle Area High School; Bachelor of Arts, Penn State; Juris Doctor, The James E. Beasley School of Law of Temple University

Qualifications: Licensed attorney since 2000, incumbent magisterial district judge 49-3-02 since 2014

Q: If elected, what will be your three top priorities, and how will you address them?

A: Priority number one is and always has been to follow the law as it is written and apply it equally to everyone. Like Lady Justice who is blind, it does not matter who is before me or whether I personally agree with the law. I am not an activist judge that interprets the law as I think that it should be; instead, I try to be careful to review developments in case law and rules in order to understand the law and render a decision that comports with the law as it is written. My second priority is to continue to be a good steward of the funds that my court handles. From the beginning of my first term, I have been very cognizant of not only how funds are being spent, but also how they are coming into my court. With a case load of almost 10,000 cases and yearly budget of over $350,000, I must ensure that every dollar that is spent is done so wisely and not wasted, knowing that it comes from the hard-working people of Centre County. It is also my duty to ensure that outstanding case balances are paid timely and kept up to date. Part of the revenue in my court comes from performing marriage ceremonies, including doing so twice a year at the State Correctional Institutions at Rockview and Benner. The third priority is to continue to be respectful and understanding of people from all walks of life who come to my court, including following requirements for interpreters, making sure that all participants are safe and secure and keeping the people that I work with happy and secure.

District 49-03-05

Candidates (vote for one):

Steven F. Lachman

Party: D/R

Campaign Website: stevelachmanforjudge.com

Date of Birth: March 15, 1958

Education: B.A. in political science, Vassar College, 1980; J.D. cum laude, Vermont Law School, 1985; M.S. in geography, Penn State, 1999; Ph.D. in geography, Penn State, 2003.

Qualifications: Magisterial district judge in State College since January 2014. Member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Administration Committee. Member of the Centre County Criminal Justice Advisory Board. Assistant professor of legal writing, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, 2008-12. Attorney for Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 1988-1997. Attorney for Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office, 1986-1988. Author of four law journal articles.

Q: If elected, what will be your three top priorities, and how will you address them?

A: As a magisterial district judge, I seek to: (1) make the court a welcoming place where people are respected and know their grievances will be heard and judged fairly; (2) educate persons who have made bad decisions so that they understand their own motivations and can take control of their lives in a positive way; (3) apply the law so as to uphold the legislature’s intent and simultaneously treat people fairly and preserve their constitutional rights. 1. Justice is not rushed. I listen patiently to all cases before me. I take the time to explain my decisions and to explain the law. I expect my staff to provide the highest level of service to the court’s clientele. We take public service seriously. For persons of diverse cultural or national backgrounds, I go out of my way to make sure they understand our legal system, because if they do not understand it, they will not see it as legitimate. 2. Most of my caseload consists of college students drinking to excess. I try to educate the students to make better decisions and to understand the consequences of alcohol abuse. Most first-time offenders can have their cases dismissed if they complete community service and alcohol education. 3. I never forget that the purpose of law is to serve people, and that to prevent overreaching by the government, constitutional rights must be protected. The law is not stagnant. I actively keep up with changes in the and participate in dialogue to improve it.

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