Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Personal Reminiscences
One of the features of aging past ninety is accumulating many stories to tell. Perhaps fewer are left alive to challenge insignificant details.

Right Angle Club 2017
Dick Palmer and Bill Dorsey died this year. We will miss them.

Deputy Managing Director

Judge Benjamin Lerner

The Deputy Managing Director of Philadelphia, former Judge Benjamin Lerner, honored the Right Angle Club by coming to lunch, recently. He immediately improved our opinion of him by first explaining why he resigned as Judge.

It seems the Inside Baseball of the last Mayor's election shifted the politics quite a lot. Under Mayor Nutter, the department heads reported to the Mayor, but under the new Mayor Kenney, everybody reported to the Managing Director. So Judge Lerner promptly resigned his judgeship and became Deputy Managing Director, if you see the drift of the power shift. He had become exercised about the drug problem in Philadelphia, wanted to do something, and knew the ropes to get it done. You've got to like a man like that.

It doesn't matter what happened to get him mad. The drug situation in this town is a disgrace, and any number of reasons might have got the Judge angry. It's too early to know what he can accomplish in his short time in office, but I have every confidence that if he can't improve things, it's time for all of us to move to another city. Because no one can fix it if he can't.

Drug Situation

In fact, I happen to know something he admitted he didn't know. Several years ago I was mugged in the middle of a police stake-out, so they caught the culprit. That's a pretty open and shut case, but the defense attorney apparently tried to stall me out of being a witness. For nine --nine -- consecutive trials, I canceled appointments and appeared at 9 AM. By the afternoon, I sat there waiting to be told the trial was postponed -- for a prisoner in custody, no less. In any event, I then watched nearly a hundred trials during these nine periods, and every one of the defendants told the Judge he had been smoking drugs, outside the courtroom in the corridor. Well, as a witness I was free to walk around, and I can tell you nobody was smoking drugs in the corridor. I knew for a fact they were telling the judge they were addicts when they weren't. I haven't the slightest idea why they were doing this, but I presume they had discovered some loophole in the law and were exploiting it. A rule that drug addicts escape a jury trial might be a plausible explanation, but I simply don't know.

The Judge agreed with me he had no idea of this behavior, or if it continued to happen. But I am willing to bet, it's now going to stop.

Originally published: Wednesday, March 15, 2017; most-recently modified: Thursday, May 16, 2019