PITTSBURGH (AP) — Max Baer, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, has died just months before his retirement, the court confirmed Saturday. He was 74.
Baer died overnight at his home near Pittsburgh, the court said in a press release. The court gave no reason for his death, but called his “sudden passing” a “tremendous loss to the court and to all of Pennsylvania.” The court also said Justice Debra Todd will now become Chief Justice.
“Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intellectual jurist whose unwavering focus was the administration of a fair and equitable judiciary,” Todd said in the press release. “He was a tireless advocate for children, dedicated to protecting and caring for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
Baer, a Duquesne law graduate, was an Allegheny County family court judge and an administrative family court judge before being elected to the Supreme Court in 2003 and becoming its chief justice last year. Baer was also the Assistant Attorney General for Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1980 and was in private practice before entering the judiciary.
Baer was scheduled to retire in late 2022 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The court said the seat was already earmarked for the 2023 vote and “in the meantime, the governor may make an appointment, subject to Senate confirmation.”
Duquesne President Ken Gormley told the newspaper that Baer believed judges should not be public figures and that he therefore shuns the limelight and uses his position to uplift others in the profession.
“He was collegial, he worked really hard to make the court work like a family and he led by example,” Gormley said. “He was the most caring person imaginable – always putting others first and celebrating their successes. He hated pettiness. He had no time for pettiness.”
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https://6abc.com/supreme-court-justice-death-pennsylvania/12285372/ Pennsylvania Supreme Court announces passing of Chief Justice Max Baer