CURRENT SENIOR JUDGES
JUDGE JAMES GARDNER COLINS
James Gardner Colins was appointed Senior Judge, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in January, 2012. Senior Judge Colins was commissioned to the Commonwealth Court in January, 1984, and served as Judge for twenty-four years, until his retirement in June, 2008. During that time, he served two terms as President Judge, from 1994 until 1999, and again from 2002 until 2006. Following his retirement and prior to his appointment in 2012, Senior Judge Colins was a Member and Shareholder at the Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philadelphia. Senior Judge Colins has served on the Supreme Court’s state-wide computerization committee; the Judicial Audit Committee of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts; the Compensation and Benefits Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges; the Pennsylvania Futures Commission; and the Century III Commission of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
In 1997, Senior Judge Colins was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Conduct Board; he was elected and served as Chairman from January 25, 1999 to February of 2000. In June 1998, he was appointed a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judiciary, Academy and Bar Committee. In August 1998, Senior Judge Colins was appointed by the president of the American Bar Association to serve on the Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession (Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Profession). In 2007, Senior Judge Colins became a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He chaired the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Constitutional Review Commission from 2010-2013.
Senior Judge Colins has been a CLE lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Pennsylvania Defense Institute, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, numerous county bar associations, as well as other professional organizations. Judge Colins has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the annual award for Distinguished Public Service presented by the Philadelphia Flag Day Association; the John Peter Zenger Law Society Distinguished Jurist Award; and the Northeast High School Student/Senate Distinguished Service Award.
Prior to being elected to the Commonwealth Court, he served on the Philadelphia Municipal Court for over three years following the private practice of law. He also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia County.
He is an alumnus of Northeast High School ( Philadelphia); the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University School of Law, and the United States Army Infantry School. He resides in Philadelphia with his wife, Judith Nilon.
JUDGE DAN PELLEGRINI
Dan R. Pellegrini was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 15, 1945. He received his B.A. from Duquesne University in 1967 and his J.D. from the Duquesne University School of Law in 1970. After service as an artillery officer in the United States Army, he became an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh in 1973.
In 1976, he became First Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh. In that position, he was responsible for major litigation, real estate matters and tax appeals. He became Deputy Solicitor in 1978 and became responsible for all of the legal matters arising out of Renaissance II, the second major revitalization and redevelopment of the downtown area of the City of Pittsburgh.
Judge Pellegrini was appointed City Solicitor in 1982. As Solicitor, he moved to prevent mergers and takeovers that would have damaged the Pittsburgh economy. He also took an active role in ensuring stable public utility rate structures, and he was instrumental in the continuing success of Renaissance II. Judge Pellegrini was particularly active in working on a solution to municipal finance problems caused by overburdening Pittsburgh with tax-exempt properties.
Judge Pellegrini has been a trustee and member of the executive committee of the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers. He has lectured extensively in the United States on municipal law problems. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Allegheny Bar Association. He has also been active in various civic, charitable and humanitarian causes. He was elected to the Commonwealth Court in 1989 and retained in 1999 and 2009. He was elected President Judge in 2012, retired in December 2015, and assumed senior judge status in January 2016.
Judge Pellegrini and his wife Toni are the parents of two daughters.
JUDGE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER
Judge Leadbetter was appointed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania by Governor Ridge in May of 1996, was elected to the Court in 1997, and was retained for an additional ten-year term in 2007. She was elected President Judge effective January 7, 2007 and served in that capacity until 2012. In 1999, she was also appointed to the Court of Judicial Discipline for a four-year term. From 1990 until she joined the Commonwealth Court, Judge Leadbetter was a shareholder in the law firm of Fineman & Bach, P.C., where she specialized in civil litigation, and also served as a Judge Pro Tempore of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (1991-96). Judge Leadbetter is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the Widener Law and Government Institute Board of Visitors, a Master of the J. Willard O’Brien American Inn of Court, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute.
She has taught trial and appellate advocacy in various venues, including Temple Law School’s LL.M. Program in Trial Advocacy and continuing legal education courses sponsored by the American Bar Association Appellate Judges' Conference, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Eastern District Continuing Legal Education Committee, the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Academy of Trial Advocacy. Judge Leadbetter previously served on the Third Circuit Lawyers' Advisory Committee (1988-91, chair 1991), the Federal Courts Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association (1990), as a director of the Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (1990s), and as a member of that Court’s Local Rules Advisory Committee.
Before entering private practice, Judge Leadbetter was an Assistant District Attorney for Philadelphia County (1971-76) and an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (1976-81). She graduated in 1968 from Rice University and in 1971 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. Judge Leadbetter retired in January 2016 and assumed senior judge status in February 2016.
She is married to Gary R. Leadbetter, a Montgomery County attorney, and they have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Last updated 8/14/18