Media, PA – It happened in the Honorable John V. Diggins Ceremonial Courtroom #1 yesterday, at Delaware County Courthouse. Judge Harry J. Karapalides, Esquire, was sworn in for his third term as Pennsylvania Magisterial District Judge of District Court 32-1-33 (Upper Darby Township and Millbourne Borough).
By his side, daughters Dee and Christina stood holding the Bible, just like they did 12 years ago yesterday, January 5, 2004, for Karapalides’ first term swearing in.
The Induction Ceremony for the Magisterial District Judges of the Pennsylvania 32nd Judicial District swore in 10 judges on this day from around Delaware County, including Upper Darby, Haverford, Marple, Newtown, Springfield, Concord, and other municipalities.
The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance as several judges of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas and the newly elected Magisterial District Judges entered the courtroom, the court bailiff shouting out, “Oye, Oye, all rise, this honorable court is now in session.” The Delaware County Sheriff’s Department Colour Guard brought in the flags, a prayer was given, and the MDJ Court Administrator, Chuck McDonald, Esquire, read out the judge’s commissions signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Each judge was then introduced and stood before the full courtroom with family members holding the Bible, where President Judge Chad Kenney of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, gave their oath.
“It’s an emotional and moving day for me. It is my third term and I have, once again, been given the trust from the community to continue to serve. It’s not to be taken lightly,” said Judge Karapalides. Karapalides’ position is a difficult one, with much responsibility because of his district. It is arguably one of the busiest suburban courts in the Commonwealth where he hears between 60-110 criminal cases each Monday.
It was a proud moment for the area’s Greek-American community as well. A member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church, Judge Karapalides has been involved with many cultural and philanthropic organizations inside the Philadelphia Greek-American community also.
In 2004, Karapalides was the third elected Greek-American judge in Delaware County, where the history of the Greek immigrants has a large presence to this day. He was preceded by two Greek-Americans, Magisterial District Judge Kenneth Miller and Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge George Koudelis. Today, Greek-Americans around Delaware County are making strides in public office. Just last January, 2015, first time elected, Spike Angelos and Chip Mackrides, were both sworn in as judges to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas and in Marple Newtown, attorney, Stavroula Kotrotsios was elected onto the school board.
When asked about why and how he became a judge, Karapalides responded by saying “It was a natural step for being an attorney and I was in the right place at the right time and I wanted to serve the community.” In 2002, fellow attorney and Greek-American, Chris Bokas, told me about a judge’s position that was opening up and said, ‘why don’t you run?’ I laughed then thought about it. I took his advice and glad I did.”
Karapalides added, “Being a judge has given me a different outlook on life. I see people I never knew and hear of their problems, but I get a chance to help them. Being a judge is not just about punishing people for breaking the law. It’s looking into the reasons for their happenstance and seeing if there is a way to get them the help they need and then working out their case. It can truly be emotional sometimes, especially when hearing cases dealing with children or the elderly.”
As for the future of Greek-Americans in Delaware County politics and the judiciary, Karapalides stated, “I have seen many good and bright young Greek-American attorneys from our community who will not only have a promising legal career, but who will make great judges in the future, or a politician. You never know, one could become President of the United States. Why not? They just have to get involved.”