Philadelphia Judge and Widener Law Graduate Offers Wisdom
Web Editor - Published: November 18, 2009
panepintoSpeaks2009“I wanted to be a lawyer, but I couldn’t get into law school,” related Judge Paul P. Panepinto ‘76 as he spoke to students on Tuesday, November 17th in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom on Widener Law’s Delaware campus.

Encouraging all of the attending students to take advantage of the opportunities in front of them, he told a story about how he first came to the then Delaware Law School in 1972 and meeting Dean Alfred Avins as he was cutting the grass. While relating his own personal path, he praised the education he received during his four years as student at the Delaware Law School. He graduated as a member of the school’s second graduating class in 1976.

Assuring the students of the value of earning a J.D from Widener, he said, “A J.D. degree is worth a lot because you can use the degree in so many ways,” adding, “You have such an opportunity here because the Professors are so great.” He also encouraged them to take pride in their work and to make sure that they give back after graduating.

In addition to discussing his personal path and the value of a Widener Law degree, Judge Panepinto addressed the issue of whether judges should be elected or appointed. He stressed that trying to decide whether judges should be appointed or elected might be the wrong way of looking at the issue, saying, “The question should really be how can we get the best judges?” He also noted that in voting situations, judges should be “evaluated on whether they are fair and impartial” rather than by their political affiliation, but added, “This is so problematic because interest groups are getting involved.’

At the conclusion of his remarks, Judge Panepinto took questions from the student audience about the impact of political parties on judicial elections and the most memorable case he had seen. After answering questions, the Judge took a moment to reemphasize his theme about giving back and mentoring by mentioning an article he wrote in the Widener Law Journal entitled “The Trial Judge as the CEO.”

Judge Panepinto graduated from Villanova University with a B.A. in Political Science. He also holds an M.A. in Political Science from Villanova and his J.D. from the Widener University School of Law. A member of Lawyers' Club of Philadelphia, the Justinian Society, the National Italian American Bar Association, the Knights of Columbus Cora Marie Council, and the Executive Council Board of Widener University School of Law, Judge Panepinto was elected to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in 1991. In 1994, Judge Panepinto received the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award from Widener University School of Law.

The Delaware Campus Republican Law Caucus sponsored Judge Panepinto’s talk.