Jon Campisi May 21, 2013, 8:27am

A trial judge from the Harrisburg area has been appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme

Court to serve out a year-and-a-half term on the state’s Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness.

In a per curiam order docketed on May 17, the high court named Deborah E. Curcillo, a Common Pleas Court judge from Dauphin County, to a term on the commission expiring on Dec. 31, 2014.

The 24-member commission, which was established in January 2005, is charged with addressing inequities and securing fairness and equal justice in the commonwealth’s court system, according to the group’s website.

Since its inception, the commission, which meets quarterly in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Harrisburg, has created a statewide policy for Pennsylvania courts on non-discrimination and equal employment opportunity, it played a major role in helping to get legislation passed that deals with interpreter services in the court system and administrative agencies, and it has produced a key report dealing with enhancing safety for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in courthouses across the commonwealth, the commission’s website states.

The commission has also created a report for the state Supreme Court dealing with standardizing jury selection procedures across the state and increasing diversity among jury members.

The commission was formed by the high court following a three-year study period that looked into whether racial or gender bias was playing a role in Pennsylvania’s civil and criminal justice system.

After the study’s completion, the state’s three branches of government announced the creation of the commission, which, the group contends, is a model among the nation’s courts when it comes to addressing bias in the justice system.

The commission seeks to “raise both public and professional awareness of the impact of race, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability on the fair delivery of justice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; suggest ways to reduce or eliminate such bias or invidious discrimination within all branches of government and within the legal profession; and increase public confidence in the fairness of all three branches of government in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the commission’s website states.

The commission, which is  funded by the state legislature through the judiciary, is comprised of members who are diverse in terms of geographic location across the commonwealth, race, ethnicity and gender.

Members include attorneys, jurists, lawmakers, social workers and other professionals.

Among those listed in the current membership lineup are Kathleen D. Wilkinson, the current chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, a whole host of both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh attorneys, and State Sen. Shirley M. Kitchen, a Democrat from Philadelphia.

Lynn Marks, a lawyer who serves as the executive director of the advocacy group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, and a frequent Pennsylvania Record source, is also a commission member.

As for Curcillo, the newly appointed member, her court biography states the Delaware Law School of Widener University graduate started her legal career as a Dauphin County Deputy District Attorney back in the mid-1980s, eventually moving up to chief deputy district attorney in that county, which is home to the commonwealth’s capitol.

Curcillo, who was elected to the Dauphin County bench in November 2009, and started her term the following January, currently handles both civil and criminal cases at the Dauphin County Common Pleas Court.

She is married to Joseph A. Curcillo, III, managing attorney at Curcillo Law, and a past president of the Dauphin County Bar Association.

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