Q&A with Giuseppe GC Rosselli, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-3-02

A culturally competent leader is informed to understand the underlying causes of behavior and driven to  provide the individual with the resources and opportunity to improve and be a better version of themselves. Conversely, a culturally competent leader is also able to identify public shortcomings that affect marginalized communities and the courage to educate when appropriate. 

The next post in our 2023 primary election season series ‘Political Q&A’ with progressive candidates throughout Pennsylvania. Candidates can be anywhere in Pennsylvania running for any level of office. Please note that these are not necessarily endorsements, more of an opportunity for candidates to connect with the LGBTQ community, progressives neighbors, and others with an interest in Western Pennsylvania. If your candidate would like to participate, please contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com. We welcome candidates at all levels of government across the entire Commonwealth.

By participating, candidates are saying that they

  • must be an LGBTQIA+ ally, specifically supporting equality and dignity for transgender persons
  • identify as pro-choice
  • must affirm that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and that they accept the certified Pennsylvania’s election results

I first “met” Giuseppe when he completed a Q&A during the 2021 election cycle. Since then, I’ve personally witnessed him show up for the trans community on multiple occasions. That stands out, especially for me. I want to elect judges who bring that understanding in to the courtroom. The more I learn about magistrates the more I think it is important to ask them hard questions and not take that role lightly. I’m glad Giuseppe felt that same way.

Your Name:  Giuseppe GC Rosselli 

Your Pronouns: He/Him/His 

The Office You Seek: Magisterial District Judge for the Quaker Valley and Franklin Park Communities 

How do you describe your identity? Cisgender white heterosexual male. 

Tell us about your district. What is a hidden gem most people might not know about? 

My district consists of the 11 communities in the Quaker Valley and the  surrounding Franklin Park Community. 

One thing that many people don’t know about the Quaker Valley, and Sewickley  specifically is that it had a prominent and thriving black community, dating as far back  as the 1820’s. Many blacks arriving in Sewickley found work in construction and the  community quickly grew. 

St. Matthews A.M.E. Zion Church was founded in 1857 and became a safe  house for those escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. The church still  stands and worships today and serves a great pancake breakfast every Saturday  morning in February. 

The Sewickley Community Center is also rich in history. In 1935, a flood  destroyed the YMCA which served as the local recreation facility for the African  American community. This left a void in the black community. In 1937, the first  Community Center was established and later relocated to Chadwick Street in 1955  where it remains an important part of our community. Throughout the years, some of  the greatest black jazz and Motown era musicians traveled to Community Center to  perform. 

How has redistricting impacted your district? To my knowledge, redistricting has not impacted my district in any discernable  way. 

As a general principal, any process that considers financial ability to determine freedom cannot be considered just. If two people commit the same crime, both are  determined to be equally dangerous, there is no amount of money that should justify the release and freedom for one simply because of their bank account balance.  

In your previous Q&A, you mentioned that you could not recall specifically the first LGBTQ person you had met because you had many folx in your life. Please tell us about the first LGBTQ organization or cause that came into your consciousness.

The first LGBTQ organization that I committed to learning from was Trans YOUniting. It was an eye-opening experience learning about the cycle of violence  impacting the trans community. I learned that many trans folx are exposed to family  and social exclusion. Family acceptance is crucial for young trans people.  Unfortunately, acceptance is often absent. This leads to isolation, increased likelihood  of homelessness and institutional discrimination. Without a stable living arrangement  and a stable income, a disproportionate number of trans folx engage in survival sex  which inevitably results in law enforcement interaction, that rarely helps the individual.  Unfortunately, survival sex also leads to violent victimization and sometimes death. The  criminal justice system, as it is currently constituted, is not equipped to address this  complex issue. 

Please tell us about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district and the region? 

I believe that my familiarity of the LGBTQ community is primarily rooted in my  legal practice. I have represented dozens of individuals who identify with the LGBTQ  community. During my judicial campaign in 2021, my understanding of the LGBTQ  community significantly expanded. I spent time with organizations throughout the area to learn the needs of the community. Although I have learned a great deal over the past  three years, it is important to recognize that any position of public trust requires leaders  to be engaged in all communities and continue to learn from those most affected by the  system to provide equitable results. 

Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for the judicial system? How will you respond to those priorities? 

I believe the top LGBTQ priorities are: 

o Equality and inclusion for transgender and gender nonconforming people

o Promotion of restorative justice programs and principles 

o Greater LGBTQ visibility within the administration of justice 

o Increased access to appropriate mental health service 

o Addressing disproportionate rates of criminalization 

o Addressing disproportionate rates of homelessness 

o Fair housing 

I will respond with the understanding that we all have personal bias. I will be thoughtful in all interactions with all members of my district. 

I will focus on individualized solutions to the underlying contributing causes that  lead people into our legal system. 

I will continue to promote the need for diversion courts to assist in providing a  more fair and just system.

I will be a resource to my community to provide a bridge between the needs of  my constituents and the services available. 

I will always stand for equality, equity and fairness when deciding matters before  me. 

I will continue to learn. 

Please give an example of how intersectionality has informed your work. We are all unique. 

We are not defined by any single identifying characteristic. 

Each identifying characteristic affects and shapes the other characteristics. Addressing any singular oppression of a person’s identity does not protect the  individual from oppression and discrimination based on other characteristics. I have spent my career representing the interests of those accused of crimes.  Race, gender, sexual orientation, education, ethnicity, language, and culture must all be  considered to understand why people enter our legal system. 

I view my clients as individuals with their own uniqueness. I continue to learn  about the issues important to them. I develop personalized plans of representation that  address the unique needs of the individual.  

I have been relentless in my efforts to break down barriers for my clients.  Specifically, I convinced the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office to amend the  Criminal Information (the official charging document) for a young transgender client. It  now reads Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. the Defendant’s preferred name rather  than the dead name. Ultimately, the charges were withdrawn, and the individual’s  record has been expunged. 

Please give an example of when a colleague has persuaded you to change or adjust your perspective on an issue

During the 2021 Election cycle, I sought the endorsement of a public official with strong ties to the LGBTQ community. It was clear that I required a better understanding  of the issues important to the LGBTQ community. In response, I dedicated myself to  gaining a deeper understanding. More importantly, I have acted based on this deeper  understanding through my practice and representation of LGBTQ members. Candidly, understanding the issues of the LGBTQ community is complex and requires constant  interaction and education to be competent. 

Magisterial District Judges are perhaps the ones who have the most contact with constituents but are often not well understood. Please describe the role of the Magistrate in the judicial system.

The Magisterial District Judge is the local judicial officer. The Magistrate is responsible  for criminal preliminary hearings, summary offense trials, civil proceedings, landlord/tenant disputes truancy, traffic violations and marriages. 

That being shared, what impact does being a LGBTQ culturally competent magistrate have on the community? 

I believe a LGBTQ culturally competent Magistrate has an enormous impact on the community. It is the first opportunity to address the underlying causes that may  have brought someone into the system. When done right, a Magistrate can have a  positive lifelong impact on those that come before the court. A culturally competent leader is informed to understand the underlying causes of behavior and driven to  provide the individual with the resources and opportunity to improve and be a better version of themselves. Conversely, a culturally competent leader is also able to identify public shortcomings that affect marginalized communities and the courage to educate when appropriate. 

Most people do not realize that magistrates are not required to be lawyers or even have any legal education – or high school diplomas – in Pennsylvania. You are dealing with intricate matters involving evictions, arrest warrants, protection from abuse orders, truancy, and bail hearings among other issues involving very vulnerable neighbors. These are life altering scenarios that if not properly executed could leave legal loopholes to derail justice. Knowing people and understanding the issues is one thing, but knowing the law seems essential. It isn’t just about making good decisions, it is about making legally sound decisions. How does your experience as a lawyer prepare you for this particular role? 

I have personally handled over 4000 proceedings at the magisterial level. I have handled every type of matter conducted at the Magistrate. 

I am an expert in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. 

I have tried more that 100 cases to verdict. 

I have a record of caring for people. 

As magistrate, what can you actually due to eliminate cash bail? Pursuant to the law, bail consideration should be limited to (1)whether an  individual is a flight risk and (2) whether they are a danger to the community. In  Allegheny County, most individuals who are granted an ROR (no cash required) bail show up to court for future proceedings. I believe the number is close to 90%.  Accordingly, I am less interested in discussing flight risk when discussing cash bail. I  view it as a non-issue. 

However, the second prong of the test is worthy of significant conversation. 

As a general principal, any process that considers financial ability to determine freedom cannot be considered just. If two people commit the same crime, both are  determined to be equally dangerous, there is no amount of money that should justify the release and freedom for one simply because of their bank account balance.  

This practice discriminates against poor and marginalized communities. 

I do not intend to use cash bail as a primary tool in my role as magistrate.  However, there will be times when confronted with an individual that is a danger to the  community. It is my responsibility to keep the community safe. Accordingly, that  individual will likely be lodged at the county jail pending future court proceedings. No  consideration will be given to financial ability. 

It must also be noted that all people carry their own unconscious bias.  Understanding and accepting that I am no different allows me to be cognizant and thoughtful when making decisions that will affect the lives of those before me.  

How do competitive primary elections benefit the residents of a community? Competitive primaries benefit the community because it provides diversity of  thought. Diversity of thought allows for conversations to expand and a better  understanding of our differences. 

What are three reasons people should vote for you/support your campaign? 

I am experienced.  

My career has been rooted in equality. 

I care. 

Tell me about your other endorsements and supporters. 

I have been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats. I did not seek the  endorsement of any political party, as I see the role of Magistrate as a non-partisan  position. 

Is there anything you’d like to add? 

Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your readers. Every chance we get  to discuss matters of fairness and equality, is one step closer to a system that serves  all.

Where can readers find your campaign on social media? www.rosselli4magistrate.com 

Thank you, Giuseppe

Other Q&A’s in this election cycle series. You can read previous cycle Q&A’s here. 

  1. Q&A with Rachael Heisler, Candidate for Pittsburgh City Controller
  2. Q&A with Abigail Salisbury, Candidate for PA State House District 34
  3. Q&A with Erica Rocchi Brusselars, Candidate for Allegheny County Treasurer
  4. Q&A with Bethany Hallam, Incumbent Candidate for Allegheny County Council, At-Large
  5. Q&A with Tracy Royston, Candidate for Pittsburgh City Controller
  6. Q&A with Lita Brillman, Candidate for City Council, District 5
  7. Q&A with Kate Lovelace, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-2-31
  8. Q&A with Valerie Fleisher, Candidate for Mt. Lebanon School Board
  9. Q&A with Barb Warwick, Candidate for City Council, District 5
  10. Q&A with Nerissa Galt, Candidate for PENNCREST School Board
  11. Q&A with Todd Hoffman, Candidate for Mt. Lebanon School Board
  12. Q&A with Dan Grzybek, Candidate for Allegheny County Council, District 5
  13. Q&A with Khari Mosley, Candidate for City Council, District 9
  14. Q&A with Alexandra Hunt, Candidate for Philadelphia City Controller
  15. Q&A with Deb Gross, Candidate for City Council, District 7
  16. Q&A with Phillip Roberts, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-2-31
  17. Q&A with Matt Dugan, Candidate for Allegheny County District Attorney
  18. Q&A with Corey O’Connor, Candidate for Allegheny County Controller
  19. Q&A with  Giuseppe GC Rosselli, Canddiate for Magisterial District Judge 05-3-02


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