Sunday, May 06, 2007

Our Greatest Living Jurist

There's a fantastic anti-endorsement editorial in today's Inquirer, all about Philadelphia's greatest living judge, Willis W. Berry, Jr. This is how it begins:

Please, please don't vote for Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. of Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Do not vote for Berry under any circumstances. Not even if you should lose your balance in the voting booth, and the only way to break your fall would be to lean against the button next to Berry's name. Don't touch it.

This is on the heels of Inquirer articles about Berry using his public staff for personal business, that this personal business includes owning and managing dilapidated properties, and that these properties are totally shot to hell. Many were purchased for a pittance from the Redevelopment Authority, with promises that he would repair them. Instead, he's held on to most of them, letting them deteriorate, holding out for more money to flip them.

Some highlights:

In his earlier years acquiring the properties, Berry , then in private practice , bought the run-down buildings under various assumed names. He says he did so because he did not have malpractice insurance at the time and did not want the assets in his name in case he got sued. The deeds were moved into his name shortly after he joined the bench.

"I figured I should be on the up and up," Berry said.

and (from another article):

Berry said he was seeking higher office because trying cases in criminal court was not especially challenging.

"It's a nothing job," he said. "Anybody can do it if you can keep an open mind and be fair. Don't really require any special training."

And: the number on the "For Rent" sign in the window is Berry's court office. Tenants would come there to drop off their rent checks.

What's astonishing above all else is the lack of guile of it all. He tells a reporter that he bought houses in fake names. He leads this reporter on a tour of his properties. I know, through a friend of a friend, Berry's legal advisor that the paper called who said that this was clearly a violation and needed to be remedied. He's a lawyer; Berry just picked his name out of a phone book.

There's no mystery here, no conspiracy -- no long con.

Clearly, this man is some kind of genius. If anyone knows anything about how this man became a judge, please share it here: I feel I must study his ways.


angela said...

i know everyone says don't judge a book by its cover, but man, the striped suit, crazy eyes, silly hair--it's like marion berry (?)

angela said...

an addition: he's got the crazy eyes like the photos of old west outlaws. like jesse james or something. the look that says, "you can't stop this, you can only hope to contain it!"

Unknown said...

this man saved my life ....thank you mr berry