Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election day in PA, the Judges

My predictions and endorsements for what it's worth.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission's ratings of appellate candidates are highlighted on PAVoteSmart as well as links to other critical information about the candidates and the important functions of Pennsylvania's courts.

My picks for the Supreme Court are Seamus McCaffrey and Debra Todd. I think McCaffrey wins on name recognition and his claim to fame for running the "Eagles Court” at the vet that dealt with rowdy Birds fans. And Todd has made some rulings that upset the law and order/war on drugs crowd but upheld the constitution. Maureen Lally-Green has been helped by ads paid for by some group in Virginia which she claims no knowledge. Why some group in Virginia cares who is on the PA Supreme Court is a mystery. Mike Krancer lacks the experience of the other candidates. Blackrobe at Keystone Politics has a great rundown of the race.

Six candidates are vying for the three open seats on Superior Court.

The Democratic nominees are Pittsburgh lawyer Christine Donohue, Allegheny County Judge Ron Folino and Philadelphia County Judge John Younge.

The Republicans are Allegheny County Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen, Dauphin County Judge Bruce F. Bratton and Pittsburgh lawyer Jackie Shogan.

I'm not up to speed on this one and have no idea who will win other than to say the Democrats are in better shape than the Republicans in any statewide race. Some less than thought out reasons to vote for or against the various candidates. Donahue has sent me about 10 or 15 glossy oversize postcards that don't say anything. A friend of mine is working to elect Ron Folino so I'll help him out. I read a book called Shogan or was it Shogun, many years ago and enjoyed it. And I got a robo call from Lou Barletta pushing Bratton, so that puts him on my shit list.

I'm still torn about electing statewide judges. On the one hand I think that the people should have a say in deciding who occupies positions in all branches of government. On the other if a political junkie like me can't get a handle on who to vote for maybe merit selection would be a better way to go. I think the biggest thing that turns me off to electing these offices is that the candidates won't tell you their positions on the issues. So we're subjected to bio adds that tell you how tough on crime and drugs they've been. All financed by the lawyers that will appear before them.


There are seven state court Judges up for retention. PACleansweep has been urging everyone to vote NO. Bernie has taken on the masochistic task of looking at the records of each jurist and gives a thumbs up to all but Saylor and Melvin. The candidates are:

Supreme Court Thomas G Saylor
Superior Court John L Musmanno

Correale F Stevens
Bonnie B Leadbetter

Joan Orie Melvin

Commonwealth Court Bernard L McGinley
Doris A Smith-Ribner

I have never voted to retain any Judge being the contrarian bastard that I am. In my memory only 2 have ever lost a retention vote. A Lackawanna County Judge that was under indictment and later convicted of theft and Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro in the pay raise fallout. Most of us don't know who these people are or what they do and the selection of appellate court judges should be taken out of the political arena.

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