SIDESBAR WINTER 2021 - 27

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

SIDEBAR FEATURE

Meet Our New Judge
The Honorable Melissa S. Sterling
Interview by Dennis R. Meakim, Esq.
The Honorable Melissa
S. Sterling is just about
to celebrate the one-year
anniversary of her swearing-in
as a Common Pleas judge. She
was not sure how she would
commemorate the date but
felt confident that Covid-19
protocols would make it a
simpler event. Judge Sterling
has enjoyed her time as a jurist.
When she was a practicing
lawyer, she appreciated those judges that took a " hands on "
approach. She intends to emulate them and work with counsel
and the parties to reach solutions. She is not afraid to address
issues directly. She wanted the members of the MBA to know
that she is open to dialog and commentary from the lawyers that
might appear before her. She is excited to be exposed to new
areas of the law and knows she will become a better judge if she
can accept constructive criticism and pointers from the more
established members of the bar.
Judge Sterling started her education at Franklin & Marshall.
She was a self-described " Math and Science " person and
was pre-med. During one Summer she participated in an
internship program at a local law firm. That experience led her
to change her goals and become a lawyer. She then attended
and graduated from Widener Law School. Interestingly, Judge
Sterling's maternal grandparents have nine grandchildren, five of
whom are attorneys and now one is a judge.
Judge Sterling settled in Lafayette Hill and raised her now
college-aged daughter. She fondly recalls her daughter helping
her campaign for township supervisor. Eventually, she rose to
the level of Chair of the Board of Supervisors of Whitemarsh

Township. As a young lawyer Judge Sterling was active within
the Philadelphia Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and
served in leadership roles. She has in the past served as a
volunteer attorney for Laurel House and Montgomery Child
Advocacy Project.
Judge Sterling is struggling to find an outlet for her volunteer
efforts. Her positon on the bench has eliminated the role of pro
bono attorney. This first year on the bench has been a busy one,
which was expected, but she hopes to find a way to get back to
community service-based volunteer work. She is really missing
the emotional rewards of volunteer efforts.
When asked about persons who influenced her career
choices, Judge Sterling was insistent that mention be made of
Angelo Scaricamazza, Esq. As a newly-minted attorney, Melissa
Sterling went to work at Naulty, Scaricamazza & McDevitt.
She spent many years there first as an associate and eventually
was made a partner. Angelo Scaricamazza was a tremendous
role model for Judge Sterling. He played such an influential
role in her career that she asked him to read the Governor's
Proclamation at her judicial swearing-in ceremony. Sadly,
Angelo died in early December 2020. Judge Sterling describes
losing his mentorship as a huge loss to her now and one she will
continue to miss in the future. She hopes that she can one day
be a similar influence for a young lawyer.
When asked for practice pointers or a list of things
to remember when appearing before her, Judge Sterling
commented that she was often intrigued by the courtroom
rules, nuances and preferences of the judges before whom
she appeared. She does not yet have any " do's or don'ts " that
lawyers need to be aware of. She does, however, stress the need
for respect. She has even contemplated displaying a sign in her
courtroom saying as much. Though she is a strong believer in
vigorous advocacy, Judge Sterling feels confident that civility and
respectfulness are necessary to be productive and efficient in the
resolution of legal battles.
Congratulations to Judge Sterling on the first anniversary of
her swearing-in.

WINTER 2021 27


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SIDESBAR WINTER 2021

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