Our Focus on Appellate Excellence
Stevens & Lee has assembled an elite team of appellate practice specialists to assist clients, on both a national and regional basis, with all appellate challenges they may face. Stevens & Lee’s appellate team assists existing clients, new clients, and other attorneys or law firms who seek to partner with Stevens & Lee to enhance their clients’ chances of appellate success.
In addition to regularly appearing before state and federal appellate courts, Stevens & Lee’s appellate team is available to consult and assist at the trial level, assisting trial counsel by identifying key issues and offering strategies not only to preserve key issues for appeal before and during trial, but also to pursue the admission of evidence in the record below that will enhance the clients’ prospects for a successful appeal.
Experience and Credentials
Our Team for Federal Appeals (Nationally and in the Third Circuit) and Appeals Before Pennsylvania State Appellate Courts
Our team is led by Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie (Ret.) who served as a circuit court judge for nearly a decade on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Our team also includes former appellate law clerks from the Third Circuit and the Pennsylvania Superior Court. With our Pennsylvania-based appellate team, we offer clients decades of experience handling appeals in both federal and Pennsylvania appellate courts.
Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie (Ret.) is a member of Stevens & Lee’s Litigation Department and chairs the firm’s Appellate and Mediation / Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Groups. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2010 where he served for eight years with distinction, participating in and deciding many complex, high profile cases. Before 2010, Judge Vanaskie served as a district judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, including serving seven years as chief judge. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed Judge Vanaskie as Chair of the Information Technology Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Judge Vanaskie has remained active in the field of technology and the law, teaching a course on Electronic Evidence at the Penn State and Dickinson Schools of Law and serving as an active contributor to the Sedona Conference. In just his first year back in private practice, Judge Vanaskie successfully argued a case to the en banc Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, obtaining a unanimous opinion overturning a $50 million trial court judgment. Judge Vanaskie graduated cum laude from The Dickinson School of Law in 1978 and was a successful private litigator and trial attorney before being appointed to the bench in 1994.
Peter J. Adonizio, Jr. is a member of Stevens & Lee’s Litigation Department and practices principally within the department’s Commercial Litigation and Appellate Practice Groups.
Before joining Stevens & Lee, Peter served as a law clerk to The Honorable Thomas I. Vanaskie and The Honorable D. Brooks Smith in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
While in law school, Peter wrote for the Villanova Law Review as a staff writer and then as the student works editor, and was awarded the Villanova Law Review Series Scribes Award. Peter was elected to the Order of the Coif and awarded the Saint Ives Medal for having the highest cumulative GPA for three years of law study.
Before attending law school, Peter worked for three years as an Associate Account Manager for the Trion Group, a Marsh and McLennan Agency, LLC, assisting clients with their employee benefit programs. He also has a background in mortuary science, having earned a Funeral Director’s license, and working in his family’s business, the Adonizio Funeral Home, LLC, in Pittston, PA.
James C. Schwartzman is a Judge on the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline. No one knows the Pennsylvania appellate courts better than Mr. Schwartzman, who is the former Chairman of the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Disciplinary Board, Continuing Legal Education Board, and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) Board.
Thompson Bell, III, a trial court and appellate litigator with over 30 years of experience, has served as lead counsel on a number of precedent-setting decisions in Pennsylvania appellate courts involving the financial services, insurance and gaming industries.
Mark D. Bradshaw has nearly 30 years of appellate experience in both the state and federal court systems, and has handled dozens of appeals before all Pennsylvania appellate courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
David J. Parsells, a trial and appellate litigator with over 30 years of experience, previously served as Senior Law Clerk to the late Honorable Gwilym A. Price, a highly respected appellate judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Dave has served as counsel on appeals in both the Pennsylvania state appellate courts, and in Pennsylvania-based appeals heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Our Team for Appeals Before New Jersey State Appellate Courts
Our team has over 30 years of varied appellate experience in New Jersey, including appeals from both administrative agencies and trial courts, and is credited with dozens of published and unpublished opinions from the New Jersey Appellate Division, including many high-profile matters. We have represented clients in appeals in a myriad of industries and practice areas, including government-contract litigation, commercial litigation, land use, open-public-records litigation, health care, cannabis and higher education.
While our team has significant experience with a wide variety of appeals, one area of preeminent experience is appeals involving government contract disputes and awards, including appeals from state administrative agencies, counties and local governments. Because these matters are often extremely time sensitive, our team routinely seeks (and also defends) emergency stays of contract award decisions in the Appellate Division. We have not only successfully obtained emergency stays on numerous occasions, our appeals have also played a role in clarifying the standard of review for the imposition of stays. Several of our appeals have also been instrumental in developing the legal standards for bid conformity, a significant issue in many government contracting disputes.
Our team is also well acquainted with all procedural aspects of New Jersey Appellate Practice, including appellate motions, settling the record on appeal and mootness on appeal. Relatedly, we also have extensive experience with appeals concerning the Open Public Records Act, public information requests and the release and scope of the administrative record.
Patrick D. Kennedy, head of Stevens & Lee’s Administrative Law and Government Contracts Group, has nearly 40 years of experience with New Jersey’s appellate courts, focusing principally on matters concerning government contracting disputes and administrative law. He has served as lead counsel on a myriad of precedent-setting decisions in the New Jersey Appellate Division, many of which have played an integral role in shaping New Jersey’s jurisprudence for government-contracting and administrative law, including principles of bid conformity, mootness on appeal and the standard of review for the imposition of temporary restraints. Prior to entering private practice, Patrick served as Assistant Director, New Jersey Office of Administrative Law. He also served as assistant to the Director of the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Division of Purchase and Property.
Maeve. E. Cannon, a shareholder in Stevens & Lee’s Administrative Law and Government Contracts Group, has over 30 years of experience with New Jersey’s appellate courts. Maeve focuses principally on government contracts litigation, administrative law and regulatory compliance. Maeve has played a lead role in several dozen New Jersey appeals, with many resulting in precedent-setting decisions that have shaped New Jersey’s jurisprudence for government contracting, including principles of bid conformity, mootness on appeal and the standard of review for the imposition of temporary restraints.
Wade D. Koenecke, a trial and appellate litigator, is a member of Stevens & Lee’s Administrative Law and Government Contracts Group as well as the Litigation Group, practicing principally in matters concerning government contracting, commercial litigation, land-use and restrictive-covenant litigation and open-public-records litigation. Wade has extensive appellate court experience and has played an integral role in several recent high-profile and precedent-setting decisions from the New Jersey Appellate Division. Before joining Stevens & Lee, Wade was a law clerk in the New Jersey Appellate Division for the Honorable Joseph L. Yannotti, J.A.D. While in law school, Wade was an editor and writer for the Rutgers University Law Review.