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Judge Arlin Adams Honored by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts


On November 18, 2013, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a program honoring Judge Arlin M. Adams and featuring a keynote address from former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The event also recognized the invaluable contributions of Judges Phyllis W. Beck and Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. to the fair courts movement.

PMC is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to the state’s courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair and impartial judges. PMC functions as a court watchdog, identifying and speaking out on issues that affect the public's confidence in the courts. PMC seeks to improve and strengthen the justice system in Pennsylvania through three main program areas: judicial selection reform; systemic court reform and improvements; and public education.

“We are very pleased to see so many influential leaders join us to celebrate these remarkable judges and the work that PMC has accomplished over the past quarter century,” said PMC Board Chair Robert C. Heim. “Much has been accomplished, but there is still much for PMC to do.”

Judge Adams summed it up nicely, noting that,  “Groups such as the one assembled here, are what the founding founders had in mind. If we fulfill their predictions, there will be no stopping us.”

In a Law360 article reporting on the event, Justice O’Connor was quoted saying, “Judicial independence means that judges are free to decide cases on the basis of law and facts, rather than on the basis of campaign contributions,” she said. “If it’s not present, our confidence in the judiciary crumbles.”

About the Keynote Speaker

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, where she served from 1981 until 2006. Following her tenure on the Court, Justice O’Connor has dedicated her time to advocating for an end to judicial elections and promoting the importance of civics education.

About the Awardees

Judge Arlin M. Adams had a long career as an outstanding member of the Pennsylvania legal community. He served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for 18 years, including as Chief Judge, before returning to private practice at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP until his retirement in 2012.             

Judge Phyllis W. Beck was the first woman to sit on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. She chaired Governor Casey’s Judicial Reform Commission, which issued a report outlining a blueprint for judicial reform in Pennsylvania. She is currently the chair of the Independence Foundation.                               

Judge Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. was a widely respected trial and appellate judge for more than 20 years, including having served as President Judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court. He was a co-founder and director of the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Center on Professionalism.  

Judge Arlin Adams addresses the attendees at the Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts’ 25th anniversary celebration. He is flanked (l-r) by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Judge Phyllis Beck and Judge Edmund  Spaeth, Jr.