Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pennsylvania Judicial elections

As usual the elections for the PA Superior and Commonwealth courts are flying under the radar along with the retention question for 6 members of the 3 state appellate courts. It's one of those things that I've seen a tidbit about here and there that didn't register until I took a look at the Luzerne County sample ballot tonight, thanks Lenny. PMC has a rundown of all the candidates.

One seat is up for the Superior Court and the candidates are Republican Vic Stabile and Democrat David Wecht. Commonwealth Court nominees are Ann Covey (R) and Kathryn Boockvar (D) competing for the open spot.

I don't pay much attention to the statewide Judge races because the candidates run on their bio's and promise to be tough on crime with an emphasis on locking up all the drug dealers. But then every politician promises to lock up all the druggies and we all know that policy has worked out well over the past 40 years. More drugs, more crime and a record number of people in prison. Drug addiction should not be treated as a law enforcement issue but a public health problem but that will require a change in federal law. Their campaigns are financed by the lawyers that will appear before them but they assure us that that will not influence their rulings. What a bunch of hooey.

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts make a good case for scrapping the present system and going with merit selection of Judges. Their blog documents the problems with electing appellate Judges and suggests improvements to the process.

In the 2009 contest for PA Supreme Court Justice we elected Joan Orie Melvin who is now in a lot of hot water along with her sister.

I'm willing to go further and go with merit selection for county judges. Do you think Michael Conahan could have survived a background check?

Vote no on retention.

I have never voted to retain a Judge as I think that elections for the offices are pointless in the first place. Very few people have lost the question but in recent years Russell Nigro and
Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. have been tossed by the voters.

This coming November we will be asked to decide if 6 people should continue in their positions.
There is not a big controversy this time such as the midnight pay raise or the kids for cash scandal so they will probably be retained.

•Justice J. Michael Eakin, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania –
•Judge John T. Bender, Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
•Judge Mary Jane Bowes, Superior Court of Pennsylvania
•Judge RenĂ©e Cohn Jubelirer, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania –
•Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania –
•Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr., Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania –

They have all been recomended by the PA Bar Association.

I'm still voting NO.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Merit selection for judges will put the selection into thehands of the powerful law firms and the political powerful such as Judge who is on some sort of court review board, lives in Lackawanna county and was chair of the County Sanitary Auth for all these years and of course at one time was the county Republican chairman. Oh year, merit selection would be wonderful = NOT!