Who are you to judge me? Lawyers and legal novices compete for the same magistrate court seats in Pennsylvania

Rasul Aquil has no experience as a lawyer, but he does serve as an elected constable. He is seeking the magistrate judgeship in Wilkinsburg, challenging the incumbent who is also not an attorney and another challenger who is an attorney. (Photo by Nick Keppler/PublicSource)

Joe Palahunik and Bruce Boni both graduated from Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks in 1983.
Palahunik went on to study marketing at Slippery Rock University and form his own company, Joe’s Pros, headquartered in his hometown. It makes customized T-shirts and branded corporate giveaways, like towels, cups and calendars. One of his specialties is Little League uniforms, and Palahunik, a father of four, has coached for years.
Boni went on to Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in psychology, and then to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Since 1999, he has operated his own general practice law firm. “Whatever walks in the door, if I am competent to handle it, I do it,” Boni said. “I tell people I’m like a small-town country lawyer.”
Despite the divergent paths the two classmates took, they are contending for the same job. Both are candidates for magistrate judge for state district 05-03-06. The judgeship would entrust either man to make rulings regarding landlord-tenant disputes, monetary claims of less than $12,000, traffic and minor criminal offenses, and the beginning stages of criminal prosecutions. The winner will also earn $89,438 annually throughout their six-year term. Boni, an attorney, and Palahunik, a small business owner with no legal experience, are both eligible under the state Constitution.



From the Web