Why Maraleen?

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Why I am running to be Judge in the

Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas?

"I come from a working class family (farmers, steel mill workers, domestics, union workers, etc.). There were no lawyers or judges in my family. I had no experience with the judicial system beyond what I saw on television and in movies. I first developed an interest in the law when I began participating in high school mock trial competitions. I was fascinated by the entire process: the investigation, the building of a case or defense, and the presentation of evidence. I was drawn to all the ways in which the law is and is not like anything I saw on television and in movies. I was hooked. Through college and law school, I continued to develop a deep understanding and respect for this system. I’ve studied racial gerrymandering. I’ve interned in Washington, DC. Throughout my life and career, I have honed several skills critical to being an effective judge."

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Critical Thinking Skills

No person has an encyclopedic knowledge of laws, which are constantly changing. The ability to understand and apply the law (statutes, ordinances, precedent) is paramount. The reality is that most cases, indeed the vast majority of cases, do not make it to a courtroom. Only the most difficult, the most contentious, disputes make it to the courtroom. By virtue of my training and practice, I am prepared to handle the difficult, contentious cases.

Temperament

The judicial system is, by its very nature, adversarial. When people arrive in the courtroom, it is because something has gone wrong and the parties have not been able to resolve their differences. The parties fundamentally, and often vehemently, disagree. In my practice, I have always endeavored to advance my clients’ causes without being disagreeable or disrespectful of the opposing party or their counsel. In my life and practice, I treat all comers with a baseline level of kindness, decency, and respect. If given the opportunity, I intend to continue in this vein and judge cases without being judgmental of the participants.

Lack of Bias

Each and every person has bias, or preference. It is a natural human trait based on a life of experiences. However, when you enter a courtroom, there's absolutely no place for bias. It is a judge’s job to ensure that her or his personal biases do not make it into any decision made by the court. It is an intentional act to, not only be conscious of the biases one has, but to set that aside and apply the law without bias. Acting based on the laws as written and facts as presented, and not based on bias, requires constant work. This is work to which I have been committed throughout my life and intend to continue on the bench if I have the opportunity. 

Communication

Communication is a cornerstone of this profession. Communication not only speaks to the ability to be understood, but the ability to hear and understand others. Strong communication has everything to do with meeting people where they are. No matter an individual’s background (e.g., educational, socioeconomic, political affiliation, first/primary language, etc.) our courts are open. My interest in meeting people where they are was a motivating factor in my own journey to speak Spanish.