Settlement talks begin in case of Judge Willis Berry

The defense and prosecution have begun talking about a settlement in the case of former Philadelphia Judge Willis Berry Jr., accused of theft and conflict of interest after running a real estate business from his chamber.

"We've just started to negotiate," defense lawyer Fred Harrison said after a Tuesday hearing on the case was postponed until June 24.

Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye confirmed a conversation has begun. "If they want to talk," he said, "I'll listen."

The Inquirer reported in 2007 that Berry, then a Common Pleas judge, moonlighted as a landlord, renting a string of derelict properties in North Philadelphia and managing them from his courthouse office.

He was suspended from his judgeship in 2009 and a real estate deal later cost him his license to practice law. This month, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that her office had charged Berry for running the business from his chambers for more than a decade.

- By Jeff Gammage