Morganelli sworn in as county judge
Amid pomp and circumstance in historic Courtroom No. 1, John Morganelli was officially sworn into office Jan. 31 as a Northampton County Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
The county prison’s honor guard, in dress blues and accompanied by a bagpiper, presented the colors, and Easton Area High School’s Karissa Kresch sang the national anthem.
The entire bench of the county’s judges attended the ceremony, as did U.S. District Court Judges Ed Smith and Joseph Leeson Jr. and numerous other dignitaries. President Judge Michael Koury Jr. administered the oath.
The courtroom was packed with family, including John’s wife and mother, as well as close to 500 friends. But it was Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez, Morganelli’s closest friend, who reminded everyone he is a product of Southside Bethlehem.
“John has never forgotten his roots, his humble beginnings and who his friends are,” Donchez said.
He and Morganelli, who lived a block apart on Evans Street, grew up together.
Morganelli’s father was a construction worker with a sixth-grade education; his mom was a seamstress with an 11th-grade education. Morganelli would go on to be the first member of his family to graduate from college, ranking fifth in a class of 305 at Moravian College.
From there, it was law school. Morganelli said he always dreamed of becoming a lawyer so he could help “the average folks.”
Although most people remember Morganelli for his long tenure as district attorney, Leeson provided an example of just how Morganelli helped ordinary people as a lawyer. He described a case in which a woman’s husband, a fitness buff in excellent health, died during a routine operation. She felt there had to be an explanation, but doctors insisted it was just one of those things.
Lawyers refused to represent this widow, but Morganelli took the case and began deposing the medical personnel who participated in this surgery. All insisted they had done everything correctly until John came to the very last nurse who had been in the operating room. She revealed the surgeon nicked an artery and the patient bled to death. The case was settled.
For his own part, Morganelli said he feels lucky, not because he’s a judge, but because of the support and encouragement he has received from his family and friends and dedicated co-workers like Terrence Houck, Morganelli’s former assistant DA and the county’s newly elected DA.
“The law is what makes us all equal,” he said.