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Judge James M. Munley

Judge James M. Munley Obituary
Judge James M. Munley, of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, passed away in Scranton on March 22, 2020, at the age of 83, surrounded by his family and a lot of love.

Judge Munley was the son of the late Robert W. Munley and Marion Langan Munley of Archbald, Pa., both former members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen P. Munley, Ph.D, professor emerita, Marywood University, Scranton, to whom he was completely devoted. Judge Munley, or Jim, as he most often introduced himself to others, and his Kathleen celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on July 11, 2019. They resided in his hometown of Archbald until May when they relocated to the Clarks Summit area.

Jim is also survived by his beloved daughter, Julia K. Munley, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, and her husband, Patrick M. Rogan, of South Abington Twp., Pa.; by his beloved daughter, Gwendolyn E. Munley McQueeney, a social worker and vice president of Virginia Services Volunteers of America, and her husband Shawn McQueeney, of Middletown, Md.; and by his beloved little granddaughter, Neave McQueeney.

Jim also leaves behind his sister-in-law, Bernadine Munley; his nieces and nephews, including his goddaughter, Marion Munley (U.S. Congressman Matthew Cartwright), Bernadine Munley, Robert W. Munley III (Lora Pazzaglia), Daniel W. Munley (Valerie Jarusik), James Christopher Munley (Dr. Maria Yager) and Caroline Munley (Edward Mullin); and his great-nieces and nephews, including Jack and Matthew Cartwright Jr., Luigi, Vanessa, Nico and Noah Munley, Daniel, Grace and Robert Munley, Audrey and Jake Munley, and Bernadine and Lydia Mullin, all of whom he loved like his own.

He was predeceased by his brother, attorney Robert W. Munley Jr., who passed away in November 2019.

Judge Munley was elected in 1977 to the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas and was retained as judge in 1987 and 1997. He served as a county judge until the U.S. Senate confirmed him as a federal judge in 1998 following his nomination to the federal bench by President William J. Clinton.

During his years on the federal bench, Judge Munley had the opportunity on a few occasions to sit as a visiting judge to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan hearing complex civil and criminal cases.

Judge Munley graduated from Archbald High School, the University of Scranton and Temple Law School. He attended the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., and pursued continuing legal studies at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass. He participated in national security seminars at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

Before law school, Jim proudly served in the United States Army for two years stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, with the illustrious 30th Infantry, Third Division, the Rock of the Marne, one of the most decorated and successful of all-American military units.

After law school he served as law clerk to Chief Justice Michael J. Eagen of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And before becoming a county judge, he joined his brother, Robert, in the practice of law in the firm of Munley and Munley.

In 1986, during his time on the county bench, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointed Judge Munley to the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board, a nine-member body that oversees the conduct of all members of the judiciary in Pennsylvania. In 1989 the members of the JIRB elected him chairman. In 1991, the Supreme Court appointed him to the State and Federal Relations Committee. In 1993, the Supreme Court appointed him to the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and reappointed him in 1996.

Jim was a member of the Board of Directors of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania. He was one of the founding members of the local branch of that organization, the Lawyers Recovery Group, and remained an active member until his passing.

Before becoming a judge, he served as a hearing examiner for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, an arbitrator for the U.S. Postal Service Expedited Arbitration Panel in the Middle Atlantic States, and a solicitor for towns and school boards throughout Lackawanna County.

Judge Munley's publications include "A Right to Die: A Judicial Perspective," The Barrister; "The Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902," The Barrister; and "Determining When Recusal is Necessary," Pennsylvania Law Journal. He was working on another publication at the time of his passing.

His teaching and lecturing credits include serving as faculty at the Dickinson School of Law for trial advocacy seminars and workshops, lecturer at the Taft Institute on Government, lecturer at Marywood University for the public administration program, lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association on the legal affairs of senior citizens, speaker before the Pennsylvania Trial Judges Conference on orientation of new judges, lecturer for the Compulsory Continuing Education Seminar on legal ethics for lawyers, lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, speaker before the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey, and speaker before the House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Judge Munley was a member of numerous professional and community organizations, including the Lacka­wan­na Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the University of Scranton Alumni Association, the Temple University School of Law Alumni Association, the Forest Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America (Executive Board and past president), the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County (Executive Committee and past president), the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of Lourdesmont Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services, the Board of Directors of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing in Carbondale, the Board of Trustees of the Everhart Museum, the Board of Directors of First National Bank of Peckville, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, the Pennsylvania Trial Judges Association Executive Committee, and the Pennsylvania Trial Judges Association Ethics Committee. He also served as Mid-Valley coordinator of the Lackawanna County United Way Fund.

Jim was the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions throughout his career, including a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, at Marywood University; the Frank J. O'Hara Award at the University of Scranton for distinguished achievement in the law; the Women's Resource Center Community Leadership Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the well-being of women and children in Lackawanna County and for his deep commitment to protect and defend their right to live without fear of domestic violence; the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the organization's highest honor for volunteer service and commitment to youth; the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America for his efforts in their character-building programs; the American Legion Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his distinguished service to the community; the Temple Law School Alumni Association Certificate of Honor in recognition of his public service activities; an honorary membership to Sigma Pi Mu at Marywood University for his exceptional service provided to the legal studies program; an honorary membership to Pi Alpha Alpha of the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration in recognition of his contributions at the Marywood University Graduate School; an appreciation award for continued support for the Mock Trial Program presented by the Young Lawyers Division of the Lackawanna Bar Association; an award presented by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board in recognition of his distinguished service; a commendation for his excellent contributions and distinguished service to the work of the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board presented by Robert N.C. Nix Jr., Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of the Full Court; and an award for his devoted and invaluable service rendered to Bethel A.M.E. Church, Scranton.

In 1993 and 1995, Judge Munley ran for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and each time received the highest rating for a judicial candidate, Highly Recommended, from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission.

While on the state court in 1990, Judge Munley wrote the opinion of a three-judge panel in Ragona v. Preate, which was the first case in the area acknowledging the "right to die" of an individual in a persistent vegetative state. The opinion became the model for Pennsylvania's living will law.

Also in state court he ruled on Bolus v. United Penn Bank, which to this day is cited regarding the law of agency and an agent's "apparent authority" to bind a principal.

He presided over several high-profile murder cases such as Commonwealth v. Dr. Mario Genovese in 1984 and Commonwealth v. Steven J. Duffey in 1986.

In federal court, in 2013 Judge Munley found that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had committed professional negligence while treating a veteran for post-traumatic stress disorder, awarding the veteran plaintiff $3.7 million in damages.

In 2007, he decided the important immigrant, civil-rights case of Lozano v. City of Hazleton, which went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The case involved a local ordinance passed by the city of Hazleton that aimed at regulating undocumented immigrants by restricting their employment and housing. Judge Munley found that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution, and his opinion was instrumental in stemming the tide of anti-immigrant ordinances in the country.

Judge Munley loved and respected his work on both the county and federal courts. He lived each day by the credo he had established for his service in his first campaign in 1977 - "I Promise to be a Good Judge." For more than 40 years he truly was a good judge, treating the parties and the lawyers in his court with fairness and dignity, always.

Above all else, Jim was a loving and devoted husband, dad and grandfather, none ever better. He cherished his time with his immediate and extended family, from camping trips with his travel trailer to time at the Jersey shore and in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He traveled with his family extensively in the United States and abroad. But his true affection was forever with his hometown of Archbald and the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He enjoyed dinners at small restaurants and diners and making friends with both staff and patrons. Jim never met a person he didn't like and he had legions of friends. His final wish as his medical treatment became more prolonged was to return "home," meaning Lackawanna County. And he did just that two days before his passing.

"We were blessed to have him in our lives as long as we did. We just wish it had been longer."

Due to the current state of emergency in the country and state, a private viewing and funeral will be held for the family. However, a memorial Mass to celebrate Judge Jim Munley's life will be held at a later time to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any of the following organizations: St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen, 500 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503; Lackawanna Pro Bono Inc., 233 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503; or Sisters of the IHM Retirement Fund, Marywood University, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509.

Arrangements, Harrison Funeral Home, Archbald.

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Published in Scranton Times on Mar. 26, 2020
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