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Lawyers' trainer Bush ready for family court role

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 10:53 p.m.
Eleanor Bush of Squirrel Hill is a candidate for Allegheny County Common Pleas judge. She oversees training for the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network through Family Design Resources.

If Eleanor Bush wins election as an Allegheny County judge, she'll likely end up exactly where she wants to work.

Most new Common Pleas judges start in family court, which handles the issues on which Bush, 53, of Squirrel Hill has focused for 25 years.

“I am the only person in this race with the depth and breadth of experience serving kids and families,” said Bush, one of 13 candidates running for four spots on the bench.

A New York native, Bush spent much of the first 13 years of her legal career in court working for the state Department of Education and the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia.

“I saw that there is so much opportunity for lives to change for the better from this work,” she told the Tribune-Review.

Bush's work in Pittsburgh over the past decade took her further away from the courtroom as she trained lawyers.

“The work I do now impacts families in 62 counties of the state,” she said.

She served on a committee that recommended changes as a result of the cash-for-kids scandal in Luzerne County, and she believes in allowing more public access to juvenile courts.

Through working with agencies that appear in family court daily, Bush knows their struggles.

“I so wish they could figure out a way to make scheduling better for families,” she said, citing possible evening hours.

On the issues:

What's the top issue facing the court? “From my perspective, the biggest issue facing the court is the family or litigants who are that moment standing before you.”

How do you keep political donations by lawyers from affecting decisions from the bench? “It isn't remotely an issue. I can't even tell you where the contributions are from.”

Should judges hire family members? “By far the most important thing for a judge to consider in how the judge runs a courtroom is to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

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