Hon. Benjamin Lerner
Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District, Philadelphia
Judge Lerner, originally appointed to the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County in 1996, was elected to his present term in 1999. In his current position, Judge Lerner is responsible for pre-trial hearings, including motions and scheduling, in all of the court’s homicide cases. He also presides over non-jury homicide trials, degree of guilt hearings and decertification hearings. Immediately prior to coming to the bench, Judge Lerner was Of Counsel at the law firm of Dilworth, Paxson, LLP in Philadelphia where he concentrated his practice on litigation, with emphasis on white collar criminal defense and trial of complex civil cases in both federal and state courts. From 1975 through 1990, Judge Lerner served as Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. In that capacity, Judge Lerner represented criminal and juvenile defendants as well as child advocacy and mental health cases. From 1973 until 1975 Judge Lerner served as the Deputy Attorney General in the Pennsylvania Department of Justice’s Office of Criminal Law. Judge Lerner also clerked for the Honorable Stanley A. Weigel from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco immediately upon graduating from law school. A member of the Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure Rules Committee (1977-1986), the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1980-1986), President of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (1983-1985), and the Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection, Retention and Evaluation (1977-1990), Judge Lerner also spent time teaching Trial Advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A recipient of numerous awards and honors including: the Philadelphia Bar Foundation “Honorable Gerald F. Flood Memorial Award” for distinguished Service to the Profession (1978); the Clara Shortridge Foltz Award for excellence in providing indigent defense services (1987); inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (October 1990) and the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award (1990), Judge Lerner received his B.A., cum laude, from Brandeis University (1962) and his LL.B., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1965).