By Aphrodite Kotrotsios
Hellenic News of America (HNA): Where were you born & raised?
Honorable Harry J. Karapalides (HJK): Born in Camden, NJ and raised in Maple Shade, NJ. Came to Upper Darby in 1985.
HNA: What is your educational background?
HJK: I received my B.A. in Political Science from Widener University (when I attended it was called Widener College), and my J.D. from the Delaware Law School of Widener University.
HNA: How long have you been a Judge in Delaware County?
HJK: I have been a judge for the past 12 years. Magisterial District Judges have 6-year terms. I am running for my 3rd term as a District Judge in Upper Darby, PA.
HNA: What is your legal background?
HJK: I have a private practice concentrating in real estate, business transactions, corporations/LLC, partnerships, wills, and estate. I have served as the former Solicitor for Millbourne Borough, Delaware County, former Chairman of the Delaware County Personnel Grievance Committee. Additionally I have served as former legal clerk, General Counsel Office at the US Dept. of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
HNA: Why will your background better help you serve Delaware County as a Magisterial District Court Judge?
HJK: The caseload in the MDJ Courts are becoming greater in number and the issues are becoming more complex, especially my current Court. An MDJ must understand the current law, must understand the fact patterns presented at court through testimony and evidence, and must be able to apply the current law and the MDJ’s experience and knowledge, both as an attorney and a sitting judge, to the case, wherein the MDJ can then make a fair and reasonable decision. As an attorney with 30 years’ experience and as a sitting judge for 12 years, I understand the current law, I am able to understand the fact patterns as presented, and to apply the law and my experience to render a fair and reasonable decision.
HNA: What are some of the challenges you face as a Judge, and how do you go about tackling them?
HKJ: The MDJ is the first level of the Court system. This is where most people will have contact with the Courts and it is important that they understand that the Courts should be fair and “blind” in that it does not matter whether you are from a certain political party, your age, your gender, the color of your skin, or where you are from. Everyone must feel that when they walk into a Court they will be treated equally and fairly. Also, many people in my court have difficulty with the English language or come from countries that do not have similar court systems and it is important that we afford them every opportunity to have interpreters and they fully understand what is happening. The position of a judge is not political. It is does not matter what party you are from, but a judge, especially in my current court must have experience and knowledge to deal not only with the person who is before me, but with the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, private defense attorneys, the police department, the Township, Victim’s Rights Advocates, and everyone associated with the Court system to insure that they all work together to make the system work and to run smooth.