Honorable Mayor James Kenney
Some time in 2016, I sent you a letter regarding the above and received a form letter back from one of your staff that basically skirted the question. I wrote you a letter dated July 18, 2016 addressing the issue and your insulting reply.
My question to you was rather simple:
What is the racial and gender make–up of arbitration panels picked to hear civil cases in the Philadelphia Courts and of those cases where the ruling is appealed, what is the racial and gender make- up and income of the Appealing litigants?
My, informal review of these questions through public records reveals that the panels are mostly white male attorneys and the attorney and their clients are mostly middle class white men and women. This question should be easy for your staff to determine. It is a VERY objective question. Very few poor litigants are able to afford the high cost of appeal from rulings of the panels the panels who can basically rule any way they want and are not required to give reasons or even cite case law. The system is a farce for anyone but the wealthy. Working with attorneys as I have for over forty years it seems attorney simply don’t want to assume the cost of filing an appeal, much less any experts that may be required. The losers, of course those without money which because of the staggering increase in the cost of litigation is including more and more of the middle class
Given all the recent talk of racism in the news, I doubt very seriously whether your office would want to give the appearance of same yet you express little interest in addressingwhat I believe to be an obvious and severe problem. Buryiing one’s head in the sand is not the answer. The ones who can least afford it are being seriously hurt by your inaction
If you recall, when I first wrote you about this, I told you the story of my mother who always told me: “Remember Bob, the constant drip of water can wear away a stone” It was her way of saying: “Don’t give up”. I cited you the example of my caling Congressman Andrews office EVERY DAY for two and a halp years to get an appoint.
I looked the Congressman right in the face and asked: “At what point did your realize I wasn’t going away?” And further: “You don’t want it out in the public that I had to call your office EVERY DAY FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS do you?”
One of my favorite movies is “The Shawshank Redemption” If you saw it, you understand why. If you need to. I won’t give it away.
But my point is, you need to step up and address the issues I have raised. If there is no racism, you have nothing to worry about. If there is no racism, you have nothing to worry about. A recent segment on “60 Minutes” addressed the inequalities found in the Public Defenders offices when it comes to inequality concerning poor litigants the result of the research did not bode well for you and the city of Philadelphia as well as most other cities.
I won’t take up more of your time, but I DO WANT AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTION.
Knowing that you are quite busy, I think a month is more than enough time to tell me how you plan to address my questions.
ROBERT J. PHILLPS