Friday, April 8, 2016

Some Parting Thoughts as Brad Richman Says Goodbye in Montco

Montgomery County Courthouse
Last week, lawyer Bradford Richman ended his work as a Montgomery County prosecutor to move on to new challenges in the private sector. Many people I interviewed for a story reviewing Richman's noteworthy career spoke about his skills and his being a mentor to them.

On a personal note, I just want to say that Richman was always candid and kind whenever I interviewed him for a story I was covering. He always returned phone calls and he never avoided press questions, whether he lost or won in court. For that, I want to say thanks, Brad. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Richman's career spanned more than 30 years and took him from helping to prosecute members of the radical organization MOVE in Philadelphia in the 1980's to launching elder abuse and DUI units in Montgomery County. Much of that career was recounted in a published story last week. But there were many things that I couldn't include there, so as a postscript, here are a few other items I took away from that interview.
Bradford A. Richman / Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

During his career, Richman, 61, worked for and with some well-known law enforcement and political heavy-hitters in the Philadelphia region.
"I've been extremely fortunate to work with people, who as leaders knew how to affect change," Richman told me.

As a law clerk and then full-fledged prosecutor in the 1970s and 1980s, Richman worked for then Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Rendell, who hired him, and who later became Philly mayor and then governor.

"The time under then DA Rendell was a very exciting time in the office. They were attacking police brutality at the time. He started a domestic violence unit, he started a rape unit. Then DA Rendell really brought vision to that office and he went on to bring vision to the mayor's office and the governor's office too," Richman said. "It was exciting because we were doing new things."
Bradford Richman on left with members of Philadelphia Police Stakeout Unit 1980/ Photo courtesy of Richman

In the late 1990's, Richman went to work for the Philadelphia Police Department under then Mayor Ed Rendell and Police Commissioner John F. Timoney.

"And why that was so exciting, was that was a time in the Philadelphia Police Department again where there was a mandate for cultural changes. Then Mayor Rendell had pretty much given Commissioner Timoney carte blanche to make improvements. It was a very exciting time to be in a bureaucracy like the police department and really have authority to fix things," said Richman, who during that time wrote a police academy curriculum preparing officers for testifying in court.
Bradford Richman 1980/ Photo Courtesy of Richman

"Commissioner Timoney was a visionary, one of the nationally renowned police chiefs in the country. He brought innovation and his way of using people for their strengths," Richman said. "Bureaucracies aren't known for that. Bureaucracies are known for wasting people's strengths, trying to make everyone the same."

In 2000, working for the Philadelphia Police Department, Richman remembers the National Republican Convention coming to town.

"Talk about being in the middle of everything. I got to walk down Broad Street, followed by all these protesters in the middle of July. We walked the whole length and I'm walking with the police commissioner and the head of civil affairs. There were protests and those things have a real energy about them and could explode. I was standing right in the middle of it. That's another amazing experience that I would never have had," Richman recalled.

"This job has really allowed me to be in the middle of some really important issues and some really important events and some really important experiences," Richman said.

In 2005, Richman was hired in Montgomery County by then District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., who later went on to be a county commissioner.
Bruce L. Castor Jr..

"He brought me on and he was one who saw the kinds of things I was good at; he understood the kinds of things I was not as good at and he let me play to my strengths, which is the sign of a good leader, a good manager of people," said Richman, recalling Castor.

When Castor left as district attorney Richman then went to work for Risa Vetri Ferman who took over as the county's top law enforcer in 2008.

"She's an extraordinary public figure. I was so impressed by her in so many ways in her handling of so many different things. She was also very, very skilled at recognizing people's strengths and letting people flourish in the areas that they're strong in," said Richman, praising Ferman.

Montgomery County Judge Risa Vetri Ferman/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
"And I think she recognized that at my age, and this office does not get a lot of lawyers who stay at my age, unfortunately, because of the pay scale, that I was in a good position to mentor younger DAs. And I think that she recognized that with my commitment on the issue of teen driving and DUI and my commitment to victims that I think she realized that this would be a good opportunity for a DUI unit and for me to work closely with the young lawyers and help them hone their skills," Richman said.

In January, Ferman was installed as a county judge and Kevin R. Steele, who spent eight years as first assistant district attorney, ascended to the district attorney's seat.

"Kevin, I think, is going to be a great DA. He certainly was an integral part of the last eight years and I think the last eight years were great DA years in the office and he's going to pick that ball up now under his own administration and take it to new places," Richman said.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele

"Part of me is sorry that I'm not here to help him to do what he thinks I can do to help his efforts, and part of me thinks I'm an old man and he needs a bunch of young DAs that are just starting out, at earlier stages of their careers, ready to tackle full steam the challenges that he wants to take on," Richman added. "I have real high expectations of him. I think he's going to be a spectacular DA. The office and the county are in great hands with him."

Richman once flirted with the idea of going into defense work, wanting to be the next "Clarence Darrow." But working the MOVE cases changed his mind, he wanted to support law enforcement, "no question," he said. One thing is evident, Richman has enormous respect for law enforcement.

Bradford A. Richman / Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
"Meeting these officers...we'd sit in my office, in the prep room, and they're funny guys, laughing, playing practical jokes on each other. They're genuine, real guys, guys you'd actually like to go out and have a beer with or go to a ballgame. And then at the turn of a switch these guys are in flak vests, doing barricaded man situations, walking into gunfire, doing dramatic rescues. They're just incredible human beings.  They're just ordinary people who find themselves in these tremendous situations and rise to the occasion and protect us," Richman said.

Brad, thank you for your public service. It's time to have that beer and take in that ballgame. Enjoy, you deserve it.

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