Bucks Writs - Summer 2019 - 30

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THE SATTERTHWAITE COURT. The most significant
change in the Bucks County judiciary over the last 50
years, other than their increase in numbers from seven
sitting judges to the present 15 sitting and senior judges,
is the absence of judges such as the late, sometimes ill
tempered Judge Edwin H. Satterthwaite ("Judge Satterthwaite"), the former President Judge of the Orphans'
Court (before it was a division of the Court of Common
Pleas) and then later the President Judge of the Court of
Common Pleas. No article about changes in the practice
of law would be complete without a description of the
dreaded appearance in court before Judge Satterthwaite.

Legal documents were prepared on manual
and then electric typewriters, usually made
by IBM. While some lawyers continued to
dictate documents to secretaries who took
shorthand, cutting edge progressive law firms
began switching to electric IBM magnetic
tape/Selectric Typewriter (the IBM MT/ST)
with integrated magnetic tape recording and
playback facilities. These were replaced by
the $11,000 Mag Card II Selectric Typewriter
with an 8,000 character memory technology
that was stored on packs of magnetic cards.

All lawyers appearing before Judge Satterthwaite were
subject to immediate and unrestrained admonishment,
reprimand, rebuke, scolding, reproach, upbraiding,
chastisement, censure, castigation, lambasting, berating,
lecture, criticism, or being held in contempt for being late, or
all of the foregoing, in a yelling, very angry tone. Ironically,
Judge Satterthwaite was friendly and pleasant in his non-judicial capacity.

Legal documents were prepared on manual and then
electric typewriters, usually made by IBM. While some
lawyers continued to dictate documents to secretaries who
took shorthand, cutting edge progressive law firms began
switching to electric IBM magnetic tape/Selectric Typewriter
(the IBM MT/ST) with integrated magnetic tape recording and
playback facilities. These were replaced by the $11,000 Mag
Card II Selectric Typewriter with an 8,000 character memory
technology that was stored on packs of magnetic cards.
$11,000 was a lot of money in 1973, especially compared to
the cost of today's desktop personal computers. Nevertheless,
many law firms continued to use the IBM Selectric Typewriter
introduced in 1961 to prepare standard legal sized printed
forms from Philadelphia printers such as from Yeo and
Lukens Company and John C. Clark Co. These companies
also printed the mandatory legal size blue backers. Judges
resisted the eventual elimination of blue backers, allegedly
so pleadings would not get lost on their desks. The use of fill
in legal forms with universally accepted language as supplemented by addenda prepared by lawyers made it much less
time consuming for lawyers to review and therefore less
costly for clients than is the case today when more lengthy
documents are prepared with computer software and are
therefore more time consuming to review and correct.

I submit my following "war stories" to demonstrate to new
lawyers what older lawyers faced in the past.
It should come as a surprise to no one that the full-time
assistant district attorneys ("ADAs") routinely arranged
to have the young, inexperienced ADAs assigned to
Judge Satterthwaite's courtroom, especially for cases the
full-timers did not want to handle because of the risk of
acquittals. During the 10-day criminal court sessions, the
part-timers were given very little time to prepare because
the DA's Office would assign them cases only minutes
before the cases were sent to trial. The defendants
were mostly represented by recently hired, inexperienced assistant public defenders just out of law school.
Experienced criminal defense lawyers, despite the risk
of sudden admonishment, nevertheless often preferred
being assigned to Judge Satterthwaite's Courtroom
because he often issued relatively light sentences. On the
civil side, partners of law firms who handled Orphans'
Court matters often sent their recently hired associates
to audit or to other Orphans' Court matters before
Judge Satterthwaite.

In the '60s and '70s, many lawyers in Bucks County did
well financially, could afford month-long vacations traveling
abroad or at their vacation homes at the "Jersey Shore,"
the Poconos, or the Adirondacks. They also had happy
marriages, could afford to send their kids to college and
graduate school, and appeared to have well balanced lives
and did not complain about stress and burn out.

True to form for new part-time ADAs, one of my first
appearances, if not the first, before Judge Satterthwaite
was for a suppression motion hearing. I had never before
attended a suppression hearing and was given no pre-instruction on how to handle a suppression hearing case.
I nevertheless was assigned to Judge Satterthwaite's
courtroom to handle my first suppression hearing.
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Winter2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Fall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Spring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Fall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Spring2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Winter2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Summer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BucksWrits/Spring2017
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