Who is Alexander Bicket, the judge in Officer Michael Rosfeld’s case?
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket landed a high-profile case last week when East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld’s homicide trial was transferred to his courtroom.
Bicket made his mark on the case quickly, approving a gag order requested by the prosecution within hours of receiving the case.
Rosfeld’s trial in connection with the June 19 killing of Antwon Rose II, an unarmed 17-year-old whom the officer shot three times as he ran from a felony traffic stop, will keep Bicket in the news as the case progresses.
But what is known about one of the newest members of the court’s criminal division?
Bicket was born and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and he moved to the United States in 1982 to attend Columbia University in New York, according to the biography on his original campaign website. He received a master’s in psychology and moved to Pittsburgh to teach English and Latin at Fox Chapel Area High School.
While teaching at Fox Chapel, he attended night classes at Duquesne University and received his law degree in 1988.
After graduating from Duquesne, Bicket joined the Zimmer Kunz law firm as an associate. There, he practiced as a trial lawyer in civil litigation for 23 years, 15 of which he spent as a partner in the firm. Bicket handled thousands of cases, arguing before more than 30 juries in Allegheny and other counties in Western Pennsylvania, he wrote in his campaign biography.
As a judge
Bicket was elected to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in 2011. He received the second-highest number of votes in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in May 2011, essentially clinching a seat on the bench before the general election. Common Pleas judges are elected to 10-year terms.
Bicket served as a judge in the court’s Family Division until 2015, when he moved to the criminal division of the Court of Common Pleas to handle the “Phoenix court” — a specialty court for repeat offenders of minor crimes.
Cases of note
• Lawrence Cook, a serial rapist, pleaded guilty in front of Bicket in January 2017 to charges of aggravated assault, rape, kidnapping and other charges in a series assaults in 2014 and 2015. In April 2017, Bicket sentenced Cook to 51 to 102 years in prison.
• Charles Nevels III was sentenced in August 2017 to up to 133 years in prison for starting a Troy Hill fire intended to kill two homicide trial witnesses in 2015. A jury convicted Nevels of two counts of attempted homicide, two counts of witness intimidation and 15 arson-related charges.
• In July, Bicket sentenced Ashley Henchell to 5 to 15 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a man outside a Mt. Washington bar. Henchell had pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.