Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Mary Jane Bowes (JD '79) Receives PBA Clarity Award

Judge Mary Jane Bowes (JD ’79), Superior Court of Pennsylvania, was presented with the 2023 Clarity Award at the PBA Annual Meeting earlier this month.  The award recognizes “those who have done the most to foster plain English in the legal field.” The committee’s mission is to improve access to the law by demystifying legal language to enable lawyers to counsel clients better by removing the barriers of legalese. One of Bowes’ nominators said she has a “reputation for clear, concise and accurate writing— which has been one of her trademarks—besides her great analyses! She is a star!”

Elected in 2001, Judge Bowes has been serving on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania for 22 years. She was retained for two additional 10-year terms in 2011 and 2021. Prior to serving on the bench, Judge Bowes served as corporate counsel for IT Corporation, Monroeville, and was in private practice for several years.

During her tenure on the bench, Judge Bowes has disposed thousands of cases and advocated to increase the court’s transparency by posting decisions online, arguing for persuasive citation, seeking increased publication of internal operating procedures, sitting in special sessions in outlying counties and having one of the highest publication rates of opinions on the court.

Judge Bowes’ efforts to decrease waste and lower costs within the court system resulted in a seven to four reduction in the number of reproduced records to be filed with the Superior Court. She also served as the statewide administrative wiretap judge and engaged in the wholesale revisions of the internal operating procedures governing wiretaps for the first time in 20 years.

In 2016, Judge Bowes was appointed to the Supreme Court Appellate Procedural Rules Committee and chaired numerous subcommittees during her six years in that role. She also served as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Criminal Justice Advisory Committee; co-president of the Women’s Bar Association; and chair of the Bloomsburg University Council of Trustees, holding that position from 2018-2022.