Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts

The Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts was established to advise the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts regarding the implementation of the Elder Law Task Force’s Report and Recommendations. The Advisory Council also collaborates with the executive and legislative branches of state government and communicates with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania about the implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations and other matters involving elder justice.

The Advisory Council was created by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania based on a recommendation from the Elder Law Task Force. The 38-member, multi-disciplinary Task Force was comprised of experts within and outside of the court system, and was chaired by Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd. The Task Force was charged with reviewing current practices and problems in the areas of guardianship, elder abuse and neglect, and access to justice; examining promising practices in other states; and delivering a blueprint of recommendations to address the needs and challenges of the Commonwealth’s aging population. Its work focused on how courts can address the particular concerns regarding elders and also be proactive about addressing the growing population of elders in the Commonwealth’s court system. The Task Force published its Report and Recommendations in November 2014.

The Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center on January 7, 2015. Superior Court Judge Paula Francisco Ott serves as the chair, and former Court Administrator of Pennsylvania Zygmont A. Pines, Esq., serves as vice-chair. Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd is the Supreme Court liaison.

Council Members

Judge Paula Francisco Ott
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
West Chester


Zygmont A. Pines, Esquire
Court Administrator of Pennsylvania (Former)


Supreme Court Liaison
Justice Debra Todd
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania


Cherstin Hamel
Director, Office of Elder Justice in the Courts
Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts


Karen C. Buck, Esquire
Executive Director
SeniorLAW Center


Dr. Bruce M. Bushwick
WellSpan Health


Ronald W. Costen, PhD, Esquire
Legal Consultant
Institute on Protective Services, Temple University


Art DiLoreto
Deputy Director
Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies
on Aging, Inc.


Lisa Grayson, Esquire
Cumberland County Register of Wills
and Orphans’ Court Clerk


Senator Arthur L. Haywood, III
Pennsylvania Senate


Representative Tim Hennessey
Pennsylvania House of Representatives


John N. Kennedy, Esquire
Kennedy, PC Law Offices


Diane Menio
Executive Director
Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests
of the Elderly (CARIE)


Judge Lois E. Murphy
Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County


Joseph M. Olimpi, Esquire
The Elder Law Office of Olimpi & Kramer, LLC


Teresa Osborne
Pennsylvania Department of Aging


Wayne M. Pecht, Esquire
Smigel, Anderson and Sacks


Honorable Josh Shapiro
Pennsylvania Attorney General


Pamela Walz, Esquire
Co-Director of the Aging and Disabilities Unit
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia


President Judge Sheila A. Woods-Skipper
Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County


Eugene A. Vittone, II, Esquire
District Attorney
Washington County District Attorney’s Office


President Judge George N. Zanic
Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County


Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., Esquire
District Attorney
Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office

There are two vacant positions pending appointments.