Judge Charles P. Mirarchi Jr., 85, presided over the longest civil trial in Pennsylvania history (at the time)

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May 13, 2010, 9:00:26 PM5/13/10
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Thu, May. 13, 2010

Charles Mirarchi Jr., longtime judge, dies at 85

By JOHN F. MORRISON
Philadelphia Daily News
http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/20100513_Charles_Mirarchi_Jr___longtime_judge__dies_at_85.html

http://media.philly.com/images/20100513_dn_0l2bppnl.jpg

IF A LAWYER was going to appeal a case decided by Judge Charles P.
Mirarchi Jr., chances were it would have been a waste of time.

Of the hundreds of appeals taken from his decisions in more than 30
years on the bench, appellate courts sustained his decisions an amazing
98 percent of the time.

It was obvious that his rulings were thoroughly considered. As his
daughter Gina Steiner said, "He was very meticulous."

Judge Mirarchi, who served 24 years in the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas and nine years as a senior Commonwealth Court judge, died Tuesday
of congestive heart failure. He was 85 and lived in South Philadelphia.

One of the cases that taxed not only his patience but that of the jury
that heard it was the 15-month civil trial in Commonwealth Court in 2000
in which the state sought to wrest millions in damages from the Monsanto
Co. and other defendants for selling defective and toxic chemicals that
left a state office building in Harrisburg contaminated after a fire in
1994.

It was called the longest civil trial in Pennsylvania history at the time.

"Thank God it's over!" shouted a juror as she left the City Hall
courtroom after the verdict that ordered Monsanto and the others to pay
the state $90 million in damages.

But Mirarchi did his best to keep the jurors happy over that long haul.

"He wanted to make sure they were comfortable and well-fed," his
daughter said. "He provided them with pretzels, hoagies and other
treats. They ate very well."

Mirarchi inherited his love of the law from his father, Charles P.
Mirarchi Sr., an immigrant from Calabria, Italy, who became an assistant
U.S. attorney and assistant state attorney general. He died in 1984 at
the age of 95.

Mirarchi was born in Philadelphia. His mother was the former Mary
Caggiano. After her death, he was reared by his stepmother, Rose Cirrito
Mirarchi.

He graduated from South Philadelphia High School for Boys in 1941, and
Temple University Law School in 1948. He became a senior partner in the
law firm of Mirarchi, DeFino and Coppolino in South Philadelphia.

"His office was only a block from his home," his daughter said. "He
walked to work and was home every night for dinner. I thought everybody
lived like that."

Mirarchi lived in the same house in South Philadelphia from age 2. After
he was elected to a 10-year term as a Common Pleas judge in 1971, he
would walk to City Hall.

He was elected secretary of the Board of Judges in 1974 and
administrative judge of the trial division in 1976. He was elected to a
second 10-year term in 1981.

As a judge in the Common Pleas Court complex-litigation section, he
mediated hundreds of cases that otherwise would have gone to trial and
consumed countless trial dates.

As president judge of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges
in 1980, he helped promote continuing legal education and re-established
the Judicial Ethics Committee, which reviews, instructs and renders
opinions.

Education was a paramount interest to Mirarchi. As the father of four
daughters, he developed a variation on the ancient Italian tradition
that the bride must come to the wedding with a dowry. "He told us, 'Your
dowry is your education. You come with that and you come with
everything,' " Gina said.

"He was an amazing person," she said.

"He was all about family and having everybody together. He made sure we
had everything we needed, but he could also be very firm."

After his retirement in 2004, he was asked to serve as a Commonwealth
Court mediator for cases arising in eastern Pennsylvania. He
successfully mediated about 50 percent of the cases, saving countless
time before the courts.

Mirarchi was the author of "The Impact of the Supreme Court on Trial
Judges," published in Perspectives in 1981.

He served as adjunct professor at Widener University Law School. He was
a captain for the Men of Malvern Laymen's Weekend Retreat League.

Last Sept. 21, he was honored by the Justinian Society of
Italian-American lawyers and judges with a portrait unveiling at City Hall.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by his wife, the former Josephine
Salvatore; three other daughters, Mary Joe Craig, Lisa Ianni and Janice
Mirarchi; a son, Charles P. Mirarchi III; 10 grandchildren, and three
great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a sister, Rosemarie Martelli.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Saturday at Annunciation of the Blessed
Virgin Mary Church, 10th and Dickinson streets. Friends may call at 7
p.m. tomorrow and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Monti-Rago Funeral Home,
2531 South Broad St. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Men of Malvern, Box
315, Malvern PA 19355-0315; the Widener University Law School, 4601
Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803, or Annunciation BVM Church, 10th and
Dickinson streets, Philadelphia 19148.

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