Centre County is fortunate to have a handful of qualified candidates vying to fill the vacant magisterial district judgeship, but Casey McClain stands out among the pack. He has the best combination of experience, knowledge of substantive law and judicial temperament of all the candidates.
Public defenders are an indispensable part of the criminal justice system. They do not get to choose their clients, but must be zealous advocates nonetheless. They are overworked and underpaid, and a high percentage of their cases result in trial or intensive pretrial and post-verdict litigation. Though many clients are grateful, a public defender often faces hostility from both his own client and the prosecution. I know this first-hand as a former public defender myself.
In this high-pressure environment, it is easy to develop a hostile and aggressive demeanor as a mere survival strategy. This did not happen to Casey. In fact, Centre County judges presented him with the first ever John R. Miller Award for Civility. The fact that Casey has managed to remain calm and civil in such a contentious setting shows that he is blessed with the ideal temperament for a judge.
At the recent candidate’s forum, Casey was the most prepared, answering questions with ease. He has clearly put much thought into how he will conduct himself as judge. If his tenure as judge is marked with the same distinction and dignity he has shown as a trial lawyer, this community will be very well served.