PA Supreme Court Chief Justice and Pittsburgh native Max Baer dies at age 74

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, Max Baer, has died unexpectedly.

Baer died at the age of 74 in his sleep, according to a release sent by state Sen. Jay Costa. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said he died at his home near Pittsburgh.

“I am saddened and heartbroken to learn of the passing of the Honorable Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Max Baer, a respected leader, and a true public servant,” Costa said in a statement. “It has been a joy to call him a friend for the past 30 years as he has served Allegheny County and the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A fellow Duquesne Law School graduate and lifelong yinzer, Justice Baer leaves an accomplished legacy of moral clarity, justice, and care for our democracy. I will miss him greatly and am holding his family in my prayers today.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said, “He had such a significant, positive impact on the judiciary, first as a Common Pleas Court judge, and then as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and then as the Chief Justice. His loss will be greatly felt. Max’s heart and passion for those who were in need, particularly families and children, was well known and evident in much of his work. His efforts to raise money for kids, through the music fund that raised money through an annual concert and the annual comedy night, a highlight of the political season, was unmatched.”

Baer, a Pittsburgh native, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and from Duquesne’s University School of Law in 1975, per his online profile. He served as a deputy attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1975-1980 and was elected as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in 1989. He was elected a justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2003 and was sworn in as chief justice of Pennsylvania only last year.

“This is a tremendous loss for the Court and all of Pennsylvania,” Justice Debra Todd said in a statement. “Pennsylvania has lost a jurist who served the Court and the citizens of the Commonwealth with distinction. 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. 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.

“On behalf of the Court, we offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and colleagues of Chief Justice Baer.”

Further information on funeral services has not yet been released.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.