HARRISBURG –In a few weeks, voters will be deciding whether to retain two justices on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and two judges on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, and voters will be filing one seat on the Superior Court.
To better inform voters about the candidates in this statewide election, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission is reissuing its ratings and descriptive paragraphs for all appellate judge candidates appearing on the Nov. 5 ballots.
Retention Candidates for the Supreme and Superior Courts of Pennsylvania
Because retention elections require only a “Yes” or “No” vote of the public, the commission rates retention candidates either as “Recommended for Retention” or “Not Recommended for Retention.”
The ratings for the retention candidates are as follows:
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Justice Max Baer – Recommended for Retention
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille – Recommended for Retention
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
Judge Susan Peikes Gantman – Recommended for Retention
Judge Jack A. Panella – Recommended for Retention
The commission based its findings for each candidate on a two-part evaluation process. Investigative panels conducted the first phase of the process, which included a thorough review of the candidate’s completed questionnaire, an analysis of written opinions authored by the retention candidate within the last three to five years, and interviews with judges and lawyers who have appeared before the retention candidate.
The panels then submitted confidential written reports to the commission outlining their preliminary, non-binding recommendations.
The commission reviewed the questionnaires and opinions as well as the investigative panel reports, and where necessary, interviewed the panel chairs before rendering its own evaluation and recommendation.
Candidates Seeking to Fill One Vacancy on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania
Each candidate seeking to fill a vacancy and requesting an evaluation by the PBA JEC is eligible to receive a rating of “Highly Recommended,” “Recommended” or “Not Recommended.”
The commission’s ratings are as follows:
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
Judge John T. McVay Jr., Allegheny County – Recommended
Victor P. Stabile, Dauphin County – Recommended
The PBA JEC based its ratings for each candidate on a two-part evaluation process. Investigative panels conducted the first phase of the process, which included personal interviews with the candidates and with individuals who have had professional or personal dealings with them. Upon completion of the investigative process, the panels submitted confidential reports to the Commission. Upon receipt and review of the investigative panel’s report, the Commission conducted the second phase of the evaluation process. The Commission interviewed each candidate, discussed his or her qualifications and reached consensus on each candidate’s rating using the following criteria:
• Highly Recommended: The candidate possesses the highest combination of legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament and would be capable of outstanding performance as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.
• Recommended: Based on legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament, the candidate would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.
• Not Recommended: Based on legal ability, experience, integrity or temperament, or any combination thereof, at the present time, the candidate is inadequate to perform satisfactorily as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.
“The information issued by the PBA JEC helps voters select candidates best suited to serve as fair, impartial and knowledgeable appellate court judges,” said Erie County lawyer Steven E. (Tim) Riley Jr., chair of the PBA JEC. “By its own definitions, the PBA JEC only recommends potential candidates with the legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament to provide satisfactory or outstanding performance as judges on the benches of our appellate courts.”