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Leibowitz makes first bid for Allegheny County judgeship

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Marvin Leibowitz of Squirrel Hill is a candidate for Allegheny County Common Pleas judge. He worked for the Social Security Administration for 24 years, has been in private practice the past 13 years and is a volunteer with the Pittsburgh Equal Opportunity Review Commission.

Marvin Leibowitz says he left the Social Security Administration 13 years ago because he wanted to spend more time in court.

“I'm in court virtually every day,” said Leibowitz, 63, of Squirrel Hill, one of 13 lawyers running for Allegheny County Common Pleas judge.

Most of his work is criminal defense, although he said about 10 percent of his caseload involves family court cases. Most new judges start in Family Division.

“I wouldn't miss a beat there,” he told the Tribune-Review.

A Philadelphia native, Leibowitz moved to Pittsburgh 36 years ago to help write opinions for administrative law judges who hear appeals of Social Security decisions. He touts that experience, his role as a court arbitrator and his volunteer work on the Pittsburgh Equal Opportunity Review Commission in preparing him to become a judge.

“Wherever the facts lead, that's how I will rule,” he said.

The commission has faced criticism for failing to follow up with businesses that win city contracts to see if they hired the required number of women and minorities. Leibowitz said full-time workers in the city office are responsible for those investigations.

This is Leibowitz's first campaign for judge but not his first political experience. He was twice elected to the state Democratic Committee.

“I knew what to expect with this race because I know the process and that's helped,” he said.

On the issues:

What's the top issue facing the court? “In the Civil Division ... I believe it should be like in criminal court, where you get one judge handling each case. In the Criminal Division, I believe judges give too many continuances.”

How do you keep political donations by lawyers from affecting decisions from the bench? “If I did get any from lawyers' groups, I would still rule on cases based on facts. I never give preference to anyone.”

Should judges hire family members? “I would never do that. I think nepotism is wrong.”

David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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