Judge Richard Klein was elevated to Pennsylvania’s appeals court, the Superior Court, after finishing first in the election of 2001. He came to the Common Pleas Court bench in 1971 as the youngest judge in the history of Pennsylvania. His educational background included graduating from Friends’ Central School as a winner of a National Merit Scholarship. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Amherst College and with honors from Harvard Law School. His prior practice included four years as a Special Assistant Attorney General, assigned to insurance fraud cases.
He retired from the bench in December, 2009, and immediately joined The Dispute Resolution Institute, where he uses his years of experience and training to help parties resolve disputes outside the Court system. He has been an active member of both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Alternative Dispute Resolution committees for decades. He received mediation training at both the American Bar Association “Mediation for Judges” course in Annapolis, Maryland, and at the National Judicial College, part of the University of Nevada. He also competed the training for the American Arbitration Association held in Boston, MA, and is a certified AAA arbitrator. He also conducts “mock appellate arguments” and otherwise assists lawyers in the appellate process.
When running for the Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Candidate Evaluation Commission gave Judge Klein its highest recommendation for appellate court, saying, “[Judge Klein] possesses the character, integrity, fairness, administrative ability, and varied background, including exemplary community service and a long term commitment to teaching, which represent the best qualities in an appellate judge.”
In his 36 years as a judge, he has handled virtually all kinds of cases. The Superior Court handles almost all appeals from the trial courts. As a trial judge, from many years, he served as the administrator of the mass tort program, particularly asbestos cases. He worked with the bar and devised many original concepts that were adopted nation-wide. He served in the major civil case program and also had a stint both in domestic relations and juvenile court. In criminal court, he served in the homicide, “career criminal,” major felony and general felony programs.
He spent several years as Chair of the Jury Selection Committee of the Board of Judges, working to streamline the jury selection process and encourage citizens to do their civic duty to appear for service. He co-wrote and produced the questionnaire and jury introduction video tape that explains the questions. The questionnaire has been adopted state-wide.
He has been a leader in encouraging the use of Court Technology, being the first judge in Philadelphia to use a computer on the bench. He is past chair of the Technology Committee of the American Bar Association, and a presenter at many of the national Court Technology Conferences.
Writing & Teaching
Judge Klein spends a great deal of his time writing and teaching. He served as an adjunct lecturer in law at Temple Law School for fifteen years, teaching legal writing and trial advocacy. He has served as guest lecturer at all law schools in the Philadelphia area. He has taught opinion writing at the past two “Judges’ College” for newly elected judges.
He is the co-author of Trial Communication Skills, a book he wrote with Julius Fast, the author of the original Body Language book. The book is in its second printing, and sections include a communication analysis of the O.J. Simpson trial and the Oliver North hearings.
His writings for legal publications and presentations to attorneys and judges include a wide range of topics, from technology to advocacy skills to key U.S. Supreme Court cases to mediation skills.
He is a frequent presenter at Continuing Legal Education programs, and recent topics have included “Twelve Ways to Anger a Judge,” “Unusual Settlement Techniques for Mass Tort Cases,” “Ethics in Depositions,” “How to Represent a Client at Mediation,” “Bad Faith Litigation,” and others.
He was principal draftsperson of the American Bar Association’s guide for technology support for judges. He was a co-author of a guide to mediation, distinguishing mediation from settlement conferences.