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5 May 2013

Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) issues ratings for judicial candidates, provides information for voters

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May 5, 2013 Category: Local Posted by:

HARRISBURG–In just a few weeks, voters will be selecting candidates seeking election to the state’s appellate courts in November. Candidates are seeking to fill one seat on the Superior Court.


To better inform voters about the candidates in this statewide election, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission today issued its ratings and descriptive paragraphs for all appellate judge candidates appearing on the May 21 primary ballots.


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

Victor P. Stabile, Dauphin County

Joseph C. Waters Jr., Philadelphia County


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.”


Serving with Riley in the leadership of the PBA JEC is Montgomery County lawyer Robert F. Morris as vice chair and Allegheny County lawyer Chris F. Gillotti as immediate past chair. Lawyer members include A. Harold Datz of Philadelphia County; Richard A. Estacio of Philadelphia County; Nancy Lauffer Heilman of Allegheny County; Sharon R. Lopez of Lancaster County; Heidi B. Masano of Berks County; Pamela J. Mayer of Cambria County; C. Edward S. Mitchell of Lycoming County; Kimberly Moses of Allegheny County; Kathryn Lease Simpson of Dauphin County; and Lorrie Elylice Whitfield of Monroe County. Non-lawyer members are Denice Ferranti-Robinson of Fayette County; Ernest F. Salvino of Centre County; Susan Sherman of Philadelphia County; John D. Unangst of Delaware County; Diane Wakefield of Beaver County; and Matthew Woessner of Dauphin County.




Judge John T. McVay Jr.

Rating: Recommended


The Candidate has served as a judge on the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas since 2007, where he has been assigned to the Family Division. His caseload consists of juvenile dependency, delinquency and adult cases. The Candidate previously served in Allegheny County as assistant county solicitor, counsel for the Housing Authority and assistant Pittsburgh city solicitor, while maintaining a part-time law practice. He is regarded as having outstanding legal ability in his current position.


He is recognized for his diligence, excellent temperament and willingness to employ unique solutions in matters that come before him. While the Candidate has limited experience before the appellate courts, the Commission found that he has the legal ability, experience, integrity and judicial temperament to perform satisfactorily on the Superior Court and recommends his candidacy.


Victor P. Stabile

Rating: Recommended


The Candidate has excelled in his career as a civil litigator. He is the managing partner of his law firm’s Harrisburg office. He previously served as a clerk for a Commonwealth Court judge and worked as a litigator in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. The Candidate has strong writing skills, administrative ability and experience in handling cases in the appellate courts. He is held in high regard by his peers, who have noted his intellect, strong work ethic and integrity.


He also serves as a township supervisor and has an exemplary record of pro bono and community service. Based on his experience and his intellect, as well as his passion for the law and public service, the commission recommends the Candidate for a position on the Superior Court.


Joseph C. Waters Jr.

Rating: Recommended


The Candidate has served as a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge since 2009. He previously worked for the Philadelphia Police Department for 21 years and as a lawyer in private practice representing clients primarily in bankruptcy, family law and criminal defense matters. His law enforcement background has served him well as a municipal court judge, however, his experience before the Superior Court is limited.


The commission found the Candidate has adequate writing and analytical skills and believes the Candidate would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge on the Superior Court.


Questionnaires submitted by the November 2013 appellate court candidates participating in the PBA JEC evaluation process, the PBA JEC’s evaluation paragraphs and additional information about Pennsylvania’s appellate courts are posted on the following website:


Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association exists to promote justice, professional excellence and respect of the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 28,000 lawyers who are members of the association.


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