Candidate: Rachel Ezzell Berry
Court: Delaware County
The following has been edited lightly for length and style.
The Legal Intelligencer: Tell us about your background, where you went to law school, what firms you have practiced at, and areas of law you focus on.
Rachel Berry: Rachel graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif from the University of Michigan Law School where she was the book review editor of the Michigan Law Review. She then clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. She has also served as law clerk to Judge Stephanie Klein of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. She has judicial experience in criminal, civil and family law across various courts and is a highly qualified candidate for the bench. She also worked as a complex commercial litigator at Dechert, one of the largest law firms in the United States, handling matters ranging from mass torts to antitrust actions to product liability. She is experienced in all stages of litigation, from pleadings to appeals. She has also worked as counsel to a family business headquartered in Delaware County, advising on regulatory, procedural and legal liability issues. Her career has focused on civil litigation, particularly complex commercial litigation and more recently, on all areas of estate litigation, including fraud, undue influence and forgery.
The Legal: What is one major thing about your career experience that most qualifies you for this position, and why?
Berry: Rachel’s years of judicial experience, in addition to her years as a litigator and law clerk, most qualifies her for this position. Judges should be learned in the law, follow the Constitution and protect the rights of all peoples against government overreach. As the Delaware County register of wills and clerk of Orphans’ Court, Berry is a countywide, elected judicial officer who regularly rules on legal petitions and presides over hearings. She swears in witnesses, admits and excludes evidence and evaluates witness testimony. She is the first Delaware County register to write an opinion and order after every hearing, detailing the applicable standard of law and explaining how she weighed the evidence. To date, she has never been reversed on appeal. This has been an important step forward for judicial transparency in Delaware County. Rachel’s well-respected reputation in the legal community as well as her work ethic is why she is also a director of the Delaware County Bar Association and chair of the Women in the Law Section of the Delaware County Bar Association. Rachel hopes to bring her commitment to serving the public and promoting judicial transparency to the Court of Common Pleas.
The Legal: What is the main reason Pennsylvania voters should pick you?
Berry: The main reason voters should support Rachel is that she brings the judicial and legal experience our court needs and demonstrates her impartiality and commitment to fairness with a hard-working, compassionate demeanor. As the register, she knows first-hand that the day most people report to court is one of the most stressful days of their lives. Rachel applies the law carefully and impartially while demonstrating respect to all parties. In addition to her years of work as the register—where she is currently presiding over the trials and deciding the cases—as a lawyer, she is experienced in both federal and state trial courts as well as both Pennsylvania and out-of-state trial courts. While a litigator at one of the most respected law firms in the United States, Rachel’s main purpose was not only to appear in court, but also to prepare cases for trial by taking on lead discovery responsibilities on cases involving potentially billions of dollars in liability and writing various motions, including motions to compel, dispositive motions, and motions in limine. She has worked directly with a nationally renowned jury consultant on strategies associated with jury selection and voir dire. Her considerable and respected work in developing expert witnesses for trial led to her being asked to co-author textbook chapters on expert witnesses for other lawyers to reference in LexisNexis’s Pennsylvania Civil Pretrial and Trial Practice Guides.
The Legal: What will be your approach to moving matters efficiently through the case management system?
Berry: Rachel’s approach to efficient caseload management would largely reflect her current, efficient management of her caseload. She knows a balance of being organized, following up, prompt scheduling and quick follow-up is crucial in moving cases along. She is quick to tease issues of fact from issues of law and to consult with attorneys on the possibility of settlement. Her focus on technology also assists in efficient caseload management.
The Legal: What would you say to voters regarding your plans to ensure the equal administration of justice for all people?
Berry: Rachel believes ensuring the equal administration of justice for all people involves many components. Most importantly, all levels of government bear responsibility here, including legislators, law enforcement, district attorneys, judges and more. As a judge, Rachel would be focused on impartially applying the law to all who come before her regardless of personal identity or status. Rachel believes this is a bedrock of fairness in our courts and that achieving that fairness involves not only striving for complete impartiality in the moment of any rulings, but also affirmatively evaluating past decisions and anticipating future decisions to ensure that decisionmakers hold themselves accountable. Rachel further believes that improving judicial transparency and accessibility to resources are critical tools in ensuring equal access to justice. As the county register, Rachel migrated public information for free, online use and provided free informational videos to help inform more of our residents about court resources, particularly those who lack the financial resources to obtain an attorney. Rachel also listens and treats all people with the respect that they deserve.
The Legal: Where can voters go for more information about you?
Berry: For more information about Rachel Berry, voters can visit the campaign website at RachelBerryforJudge.com, as well as follow Rachel on Facebook or Twitter at @Berry4delco.
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