James M. “Jimmy” DeLeon III may have the least name recognition of all the candidates running for mayor of Philadelphia, but he does have the most life experience. Age 75, DeLeon is the senior candidate in the mayor’s race, having spent 34 years as a Philadelphia municipal court judge. He retired in early 2002 and announced his plans to run for Jim Kenney’s job on November 22, 2002.
DeLeon is a long, long, longshot. As former mayoral candidate and longtime political observer Sam Katz puts it, “Every run for mayor needs a candidate to come in last place. Former Municipal Court Judge Jimmy DeLeon should fit that bill nicely.”
DeLeon grew up in West Philadelphia and graduated from West Catholic High School, then Howard University, then Widener Law. He currently lives in Germantown.
The retired jurist has said his judicial experience gives him a first hand perspective on what’s broken about how the City handles crime, especially gun violence. To solve it, he has proposed the creation of a “local incident management system,” a set of procedures for and coordination among judicial, legal and law enforcement City departments, along with new constraints on anyone arrested and charged for possession of an illegal firearm.
After retiring, DeLeon served as the chair of the legal committee of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee. His previous runs for higher office include an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2003 and a second unsuccessful bid for the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2007.
Here’s what else we know about Jimmy DeLeon
- HE’S A DIFFERENT KIND OF OUTSIDER, the lone judge in a field of mostly former Councilmembers.
- CRIMINAL MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGES preside over misdemeanor and summary offense cases and perform preliminary hearings in felony cases.
- HE’S HAD HIS OWN LEGAL RUN-INS. Although the Judicial Conduct Board’s case accusing DeLeon of engaging in prohibited campaign conduct while running for Supreme Court in 2006 was dismissed because of improper timing, in 2008, he was found guilty of issuing a bogus stay away order.
- MENTORSHIP, JOB PLACEMENT, recidivism reduction and close supervision, he believes, are key to stopping gun violence.
- HE WAS PART OF A LEGAL TEAM who represented an anonymous African American billionaire in an attempt to buy the Denver Broncos. Had they been successful, the buyer would have become the first Black NFL franchise owner.
Press coverage of Jimmy DeLeon
- His editorial for the Philadelphia Sun on gun violence reduction
- Campaign announcement in the Philadelphia Tribune
- Profile, post campaign announcement, in Billy Penn
- On his suspension, disciplinary action, in 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- A day in DeLeon’s courtroom, circa 2016, in the Philly Voice
Video featuring Jimmy DeLeon
More ways to learn about Jimmy DeLeon
Check out Jimmy DeLeon’s campaign website.
Follow Jimmy DeLeon on social: Twitter.
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