An attorney from Bethlehem has announced that he will run for Northampton County judge, citing 25 years of legal experience.
However, Tom Carroll is running for a seat currently being held by a man who does not want to let it go – and has sued the state to keep it.
Judge Leonard Zito turned 70 on Jan. 26, which means that under Pennsylvania law he is required to retire by the end of this year.
But Zito and five other Pennsylvania judges have sued in Commonwealth Court, claiming that the mandatory retirement age violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the state Constitution.
It is unclear how the lawsuit might affect the election that would otherwise replace Zito. Carroll is the first to announce his intention to run for the county bench this year. The Republican ran for Bethlehem City Council in 2011 and lost.
“It is essential that a judge come to the bench with a broad range of life experiences,” Carroll said through a news release he issued last week. “A judge must also have a respect for the rule of law and an understanding that individual rights and freedoms are given to us by God and guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Constitution.”
Carroll is a 1984 graduate of Pennsylvania State University and 1988 graduate of the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America.
He began his career in 1989 in Montgomery County as an assistant district attorney. He served on the Major Crimes Unit, as chief of the ARD Unit, and as chief of the Juvenile Division. He also served as assistant district attorney, Chief Juvenile Law Prosecutor of Northampton County between 2005 and 2007.
Carroll has spent 17 years in sole practice and has handled cases in 13 Pennsylvania counties. He has handled a variety of cases ranging from debt collection to domestic relations to criminal defense. He has also sat as an arbitration panelist in Montgomery County Court on civil claims involving accidents, personal injuries and contract law.
He currently resides in Bethlehem and is a member of Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church. He is a board member of the South Bethlehem Historical Society.