Pennsylvania Supreme Court Announces Chief Justice Dead At 74


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It is sad times at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as it was announced that its Chief Justice had died at the age of 74.

Chief Justice Chief Justice Max Baer, who served on the court since 2003 and became chief justice in 2021, died on Friday, The Pittsburgh post-Gazette reported.

“This is a tremendous loss for the Court and all of Pennsylvania,” new Chief Justice Debra Todd said.

“Pennsylvania has lost a jurist who served the Court and the citizens of the Commonwealth with distinction,” she said. “Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intellectual jurist whose unwavering focus was on administering fair and balanced justice.”


“He was a tireless champion for children, devoted to protecting and providing for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” she said.

“His distinguished service and commitment to justice and fairness spanned his decades on the bench – first as a family court judge in Allegheny County and eventually as administrative judge in family court before being elected to serve on the Supreme Court,” she said. “On behalf of the Court, we offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and colleagues of Chief Justice Baer.”

Named after both his grandfathers, David Max Baer began using his middle name in law school at Duquesne University, perfectly happy to have people confuse him with the 1930s heavyweight boxing champ of the same name, according to a profile in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2003.

He grew up in Dormont, and his family had a car dealership on West Liberty Avenue. His family name was familiar to Pittsburghers long before he became a judge. His father, Henry “Budd” Baer, owned a Volkswagen dealership in the 1960s, and later, with his son Mark, opened Budd Baer Inc. in Washington, Pa. The slogan,  “Budd” Baer, “The Honest Dealer,” still graces automobile dealerships there.

Max Baer graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and from Duquesne’s night law school program in 1975. He was scheduled to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the law school on Oct. 14.

He served as deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1980, and then moved to private practice for nine years. Mr. Baer was elected as an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court  judge in 1989, spending most of his time in the court’s family division. He earned national recognition for his juvenile court reforms.

The Chief Justice penned the decision that allowed mail ballot drop boxes and satellite election offices.


“It is beyond cavil that the numbers of mail-in ballot requests for the primary will be dwarfed by those applications filed during the upcoming highly contested presidential election in the midst of the pandemic where many voters are still wary of congregating in crowded locations such as polling places,”

“I’m extremely saddened to learn that Chief Justice Baer passed away,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “He was a respected and esteemed jurist with decades of service to our courts and our commonwealth. I am grateful for his contributions and leadership in the Supreme Court.”

More tributes poured in for the late Chief Justice.

“I think that probably is the heart of why he did what he did, in terms of all the reforms he made, recognizing that every child needs to have that – that family, that love of family, that closeness that he has with his own family,” Judge Kim Berkeley Clark said. “I’m just guessing about that, but I do know that was a big part of who he was – his love for his family – because we heard it all the time.”

“He was always wanting to mentor and have younger clerks come in and be successful,” his chief law clerk Betsy Ceraso said. “He always wanted to have interactions, and thought it was important for us to perpetuate having good lawyers go out into the world and know how to approach the law.”

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