Bethlehem Press

Monday, August 20, 2018
press photo by bernie o’hareJudge Michael Koury in January, at inauguration ceremony for elected officials. press photo by bernie o’hareJudge Michael Koury in January, at inauguration ceremony for elected officials.

NORCO-Koury unanimous choice as PJ

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Northampton County’s Court of Common Pleas has voted unanimously to elect Michael J. Koury Jr. as President Judge. He will succeed Stephen Barratta, the current President Judge, on June 8.

Baratta will be a tough act to follow. During his tenure, Baratta streamlined court operations to increase efficiency, especially in criminal cases. He has been behind the creation of several problem solving courts that address the ultimate cause of criminal behavior. He supported an expansion of pretrial services designed to keep low-risk offenders out of jail. He also revamped custody cases, appointing prominent Harvard Law grad Lisa Tresslar as a full-time Master who sits down with the parties and serves more as a mediator to resolve disputes. This spares parents and their children the trauma of a courtroom. He has also been an advocate of higher pay for judicial employees.

Despite his successes as an Administrator, President Judges may only serve for five years in counties like Northampton. They are barred from serving two consecutive terms.

Baratta’s successor, Michael Koury, is graduate of Notre Dame High School, Moravian College and Villanova University School of Law, where he served on Law Review because he was in the top 3% of his class.

He was on his way to a lucrative career in a prominent Wall Street firm, when tragedy stuck. His popular father, who served as a Magisterial District Judge in Wilson Borough for 20 years, unexpectedly passed away. He was an amazing man who also operated the cash register at Josie’s Deli over the lunch hour. He was also a teacher and basketball coach at Allentown Central Catholic HS.

Koury decided to follow his father’s footsteps on the bench and waged a successful write-in campaign to replace him in what us sometimes called the People’s Court.

Koury was first elected to the Court of Common Pleas in 2009. He lives in Easton with his wife Elaine and their three children.

His mother Josie is the owner and proprietor of Josie’s Deli in the Easton circle

He is known for very scholarly legal opinions, tough sentences and seems to really enjoy the give and take of argument court.