PITTSBURGH (AP) — Max Baer, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, died just months before retiring, the court confirmed on Saturday. He was 74 years old.
Baer died overnight at his home near Pittsburgh, the court said in a news release. The court did not give a reason for his death but called his “sudden passing” a “huge loss to the court and all of Pennsylvania.” The court also said Judge Debra Todd would now become chief justice.
“Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intellectual jurist whose unwavering goal was to administer fair and balanced justice,” Todd said in the statement. “He was a tireless advocate for children, dedicated to protecting and supporting the needs of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. ”
Baer, a Duquesne law graduate, was a judge in the Allegheny County Family Court and an administrative judge in the Family Court before being elected to the High Court in 2003 and becoming its Chief Justice. Last year. Baer also served as Pennsylvania’s assistant attorney general from 1975 to 1980 and was in private practice before entering the bench.
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Baer was scheduled to retire in late 2022 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The court said the seat had already been slated for the 2023 ballot and that “in the meantime, the governor may choose to make an appointment, subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
Duquesne President Ken Gormley told the newspaper that Baer believes judges should not be public figures and therefore avoids the limelight, using his position to uplift others in the profession.
“He was collegial, he worked very hard to make the court run like a family and he led by example,” Gormley said. “He was the most caring person imaginable – he always put others first and celebrated their successes. He hated pettiness. He had no time for pettiness.
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