Jun. 22—WILKES-BARRE — Seven Pennsylvania Superior Court judges made a special appearance at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Wednesday to hear arguments on appeal and pay tribute to the appellate court's first president judge who hailed from Wilkes-Barre.
Charles Edmund Rice, an attorney and trial judge from Luzerne County, was appointed the Superior Court's first president judge when the appellate court came into existence in 1895 holding the honorary position until 1915. Rice died May 16, 1919.
"The law was his mistress," Attorney Girard J. Mecadon said while acknowledging he stole the line from Rice's obituary.
Before the Superior Court judges took court in a courtroom, Rice's tribute was held in the courthouse Rotunda and broadcast statewide by the PCN Network.
Eleven of the 12 judges from Luzerne County were in attendance, including former county judge and Superior Court President Judge Emeritus Correale F. Stevens.
Stevens spoke about the functions of the Superior Court how the appellate court handles nearly 8,000 cases on appeal annually, making the Pennsylvania court one of the busiest in the country.
Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough spoke about the privilege of working inside one of the most beautiful courthouses in the Commonwealth. Vough said he is usually one of the first to enter the courthouse and finds himself looking at the history of the building that opened in 1909.
Vough further praised the public servants employed at the courthouse for their service to the public.
Stevens and Vough were honored by Mecadon as president of the Luzerne County Bar Association and Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association.
As current and former president judges in Luzerne County, Mecadon said their portraits will be placed inside the courthouse library along with other previous county president judges.
Tony Brooks, director of the Wilkes-Barré Preservation Society, spoke about the legacy of Rice while Attorney Catherine R. O'Donnell, discussed the efforts during the latter half of the 1800s to form the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Wednesday's event was two years in the making, which began when O'Donnell served as president of the Luzerne County Bar Association, but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Superior Court in an effort to educate the public about the appellate court hears arguments on appeal in other courthouses throughout the Commonwealth.