Dugan touts upbringing, experience in court race

Municipal Court President Judge Pat Dugan often talks about his humble roots.

Dugan lived in Frankford, attended St. Joachim Grammar School and scored high enough on an entrance exam to earn a Gino’s Scholarship to St. Joseph’s Prep.

“I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth,” he said.

Dugan went on to become a lawyer and serve in the U.S. Army, including five years overseas and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He received a Bronze Star.

Dugan thinks his upbringing and experience make him well suited for a seat on Superior Court.

“I believe we need regular people serving,” he said.

Dugan, whose grandfather was a Philadelphia firefighter who died in the line of duty, grew up playing and coaching sports at Max Myers, Tarken and Moss playgrounds. Today, he and his wife Nancy, a retired police officer, have a blended family of six kids and nine grandchildren. They are members of Our Lady of Calvary Parish.

A resident of the 66th Ward in the Far Northeast, Dugan is one of three Democratic candidates running for two seats on Superior Court in the May 16 primary. The other candidates are Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Timika Lane and Allegheny County lawyer Jill Beck, who are both endorsed by the state party.

Dugan has the top ballot position and has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Democratic Party, the Philadelphia Building Trades, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright.

The top two finishers will face Republicans Maria Battista, a Clarion County lawyer, and Harry Smail, a Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court judge, in the general election.

On Dugan’s campaign literature, it says, “Hates the Dallas Cowboys.”

The literature also notes his 23 years in the Army, including 10 as a JAG officer. He was appointed by then-Gov. Ed Rendell in 2007 to Municipal Court and was elected to a full term in ‘09.

In 2010, Dugan founded Veterans Court, which he describes as “mentor-centric.”

“Veterans Court is nationally acclaimed. We have a less than 10 percent recidivism rate,” he said. “It does work.”

In 2019, Dugan became president judge of Municipal Court.

In his term as president judge, he has had to keep Municipal Court operational through the coronavirus, the 2020 riots and a computer virus.

“I’ve been a judge for 16 years and president judge of Municipal Court for 4½ years. My peers, 27 judges, elected me to be their leader,” he said. “I think my experience puts me in a unique situation to be a good Superior Court judge.”