Montgomery County Courthouse/Mercury photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
Montgomery County’s top law enforcer will play a leading role in the professional association that provides training for prosecutors and information on legal and legislative issues.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has been elected by her peers to the post of vice-president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association for the 2014-2015 business year. Ferman’s election took place last week during the association’s annual business meeting.
During the meeting, Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson was elected president of the association while Lebanon County District Attorney David Arnold was elected secretary-treasurer for 2014-15.
Ferman, previously secretary-treasurer of the association, said she was honored to be elected by her colleagues as vice-president.
"It's been a privilege to serve on the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association's Executive Committee for the past few years and I look forward to working with our new president, Union County District Attorney Pete Johnson, and our other officers and executive committee members to advance our mission to seek justice across the commonwealth," Ferman said during an interview this week.
Ferman explained the association has a long history of identifying reforms of the criminal justice system and establishing best practices for prosecutors statewide.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman
Mercury Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
"As vice-president, I expect to be much more involved in supporting our legislative agenda. Some of the issues that I anticipate dealing with over the next year or so include the continued expansion of our network of child advocacy centers so that every child in Pennsylvania has access to a child advocacy center," Ferman said. "I believe we'll be devoting a good deal of effort to crime prevention programs that focus on prescription drug and heroin abuse. From what we're seeing across Pennsylvania, this is one of our greatest epidemics."
In a press release, association officials recently said the PDAA successfully led efforts to: reform Pennsylvania's child protection laws; establish historic, first-time state funding for children's advocacy centers; and create a statewide prescription drug return and disposal program to help fight prescription drug abuse.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is comprised of approximately 1,000 members and is charged with providing uniformity and efficiency in the discharge of duties and functions of Pennsylvania’s 67 district attorneys and their assistants. Founded in 1912, the association sponsors extensive training programs and reports legal and legislative developments of importance to Pennsylvania prosecutors.
"The Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association plays an important role in protecting the integrity of our profession and helping to preserve, protect and advance Pennsylvania's criminal justice system," said Johnson, first elected Union County District Attorney in 1995. "As president, I am firmly committed to continuing the association's work and always adhering to the prosecutor motto to do the right thing, for the right reasons."
Prior to his election as district attorney, Johnson served as an assistant district attorney and conducted a general law practice. Born and raised in Erie, Johnson is a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law (1984) and Gannon College (1979).
Ferman, a Republican and career prosecutor who spent 15 years climbing the ranks in the district attorney’s office, was elected the county’s first female district attorney in 2007. Ferman began her career with the district attorney’s office in January 1993 and cut her prosecutorial teeth in the pre-trials division, ran the sex crimes unit, oversaw homicide, wiretap and grand jury investigations and supervised the trials division as a deputy district attorney before being appointed second in command by former District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. in 2002.
A 1983 graduate of Abington High School, Ferman received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and graduated from Widener University School of Law in 1992.
Ferman was an intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1991.
Ferman, who lives in Abington, also is a founder of the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, which provides pro bono legal representation for children who are victims or witnesses of abuse. She also helped lead the effort to open “Mission Kids,” a child advocacy center for abused children.