Monday, January 7, 2013

Attorney Antonia Grifo Announces Bid for Magistrate

By Christina Georgiou

Downtown Easton attorney Antonia M. Grifo announced her intentions Monday to run for the magisterial justice seat vacated by the sudden death of District Judge Gay Elwell.

"I am running for this judgeship at the urging of many friends, family members and colleagues who believe that I have 'the right experience, right from the start' to serve this district, as district judge," Grifo said at a press conference held at her office in the 300 block of Spring Garden Street.

Grifo said her roots and lifelong residency in the city, in addition to her law experience, would be beneficial to the magisterial office.

"My legal career and my community service, the wide range of clients I have represented over the years, and the many people I have come into contact with provide me first hand knowledge of the legal concepts I will be required to apply, and a unique insight into the types of situations I will be required to consider and rule upon," she said. "It would be an honor to succeed to Judge Elwell’s legacy as District Justice and with my solid footing in this community, I think I can fill her shoes."

Grifo, 56, is a lifelong resident of Easton who has two college age sons. She shares a law office with her husband, attorney Ronald Shipman, who is semi-retired and son Christopher Shipman, who is also an attorney.

She is the daughter of Lee T. Grifo, described as a community leader, and the late Judge Richard D. Grifo, both also lifelong residents of the city.

Grifo said she doesn't expect that having family members in the legal profession locally will present a problem.

"Certainly, they couldn't appear before me (or represent clients)," she said, adding that such cases would be transferred to another nearby district court. "It's not uncommon for family members to not be able to appear before a particular judge due to a family relationship."

Despite the fact that as a practicing attorney she is already qualified, Grifo plans to take the state certification course for district judges in June.

"I don't need to take that course, but I plan to take that course," Grifo said. "It's a very good review of what the job requires...There's an administrative component as well."

Grifo said that her approach to the election will be bipartisan.

"I come from a solid Republican background, but I am a long-time registered Democrat. As is appropriate, judicial races and my appeal are bipartisan," she said. "I will cross-file and appear on both the Republican and Democratic tickets in the primary."

She added, "I am now at a place and time in my career where serving in the justice system not as a practicing lawyer, but as a public servant, has become important to me. This is not a step on the way to another career for me, but a logical continuation of both my legal career and my community service...The people of this District can rely on the fact that I will hit the ground running in January of 2014...ready, willing and honored to serve this District, as District Justice."

Grifo is the second person to officially announce interest in serving as magistrate for District Court 03-2-05, which serves College Hill, Downtown and parts of the West Ward in the City of Easton.

While it's still possible that Governor Tom Corbett could appoint someone to Elwell's vacant seat, the governor's office has to date made no indication he will do so.

Sharbel Koorie, a code enforcement officer for the City of Easton and also a lifelong resident, announced his intention to run on Dec. 27.

Northampton County Constable Lance Wheeler is also expected to make a statement with regard to a possible bid for the judgeship on Jan. 15, and it is thought that attorney Tim Prendergast may also make a bid for the seat, possibly later this month.

Easton City Controller Tony Bassil has also expressed interest in running for magistrate, but has yet to announce if this is a certainty.

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