PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION JUDICIAL EVALUATION COMMISSION 2009 SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE RATINGS

Judge Cheryl L. Allen, Allegheny County
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate served with distinction as a judge on the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County from 1990 until 2007 when she was elected to the Superior Court. She is held in high esteem by her colleagues on the bench as well as by those who appear before her. She has extensive experience and particular expertise in the area of juvenile law. She implemented numerous innovative programs to address the needs of children, with emphasis on the importance of education and mentoring programs. The Candidate is known for her scholarly and thoughtful opinions, intellect, work ethic and passionate commitment to furthering justice. She has demonstrated fairness and compassion in all aspects of her professional career and service to her community. She has a keen, analytical mind, and she enjoys a well-earned reputation as a productive, principled and dedicated jurist. She has been recognized with several awards from the community. Lawyers have found her to be prepared and conscientious in her decision making. She has the breadth of experience and knowledge of the Rule of Law to serve with distinction on the highest court. She is highly recommended for this position.

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Judge Joan Orie Melvin, Allegheny County
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate was elected to the Superior Court in 1997 and was retained by the voters for a second term in 2007. She previously served seven years as a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and five years as chief magistrate of the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, where she is credited for establishing the first Domestic Violence Court in Pennsylvania. She also worked for two years on a corporate legal staff and two years in private practice in Pittsburgh. Her diligence, organizational skills and strong work ethic have served her well in handling the heavy caseload of the Superior Court. Her written opinions are cogent and well reasoned. The Candidate has an impressive record of involvement in professional activities and community service, including her recent development of a program for high school students about the legal consequences of Internet usage. She is recognized as genial and fair minded, and she has demonstrated sound judicial temperament. She is respected by her colleagues on the Superior Court, the lawyers who have appeared before her and those who have worked with her in the community. Based on her solid record of performance, the Commission concludes that the Candidate is deserving of its highest rating.

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Judge Jack A. Panella, Northampton County
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate currently serves as a judge of the Superior Court, having been elected in November 2003. He previously served more than 12 years as a common pleas judge in Northampton County, and before that was a practicing attorney and county solicitor. He has served as a judge and President Judge of the Court of Judicial Discipline, where charges against judicial officers are heard, and as chair of the Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates claims of ethical misconduct against Pennsylvania judges and brings charges in meritorious cases. His service on the Commission for Justice Initiatives in Pennsylvania exemplifies his commitment to the improvement of the quality of justice. He is the principal author of an important bench book for Pennsylvania trial judges about crimes of sexual violence. His written opinions are crafted with clarity and precision. During his time on the bench, he has shown both sound judicial temperament and exceptional administrative ability. The Commission believes the Candidate possesses a rare combination of intellect, energy and skills that qualify him as highly recommended to ascend to the Supreme Court.

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Judge Paul Panepinto, Philadelphia County
Rating: Highly Recommended

Innovation in the administration of justice has been a hallmark of the Candidate's judicial career. A member of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia since 1990, he is held in high regard by both lawyers practicing before him and his colleagues on the bench. As administrative judge of the Family Court in Philadelphia, he developed a truancy program that has become a national model. In addition to his solid record of court administration, the Candidate demonstrates expertise in handling complex litigation matters. He is a good communicator, and he demonstrates solid consensus-building skills. Hardworking, evenhanded, thoughtful and enthusiastic about the law, the Candidate's knowledge of established principles of the law is self evident. The Commission highly recommends the Candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court.

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Judge Teresa Sarmina, Philadelphia County
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate currently serves as a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. She was elected in 1997 and retained in 2007. She previously worked as a senior deputy attorney general with responsibility for drug, fraud, antitrust and charitable organization violations. She also worked for five years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, as a legislative aide to a congressman and as a social worker. Her recent experience as a trial judge has included major criminal cases. She writes with a clear and precise style, and her opinions are well-reasoned and seldom reversed. She has earned the respect of her colleagues on the bench and of the lawyers who have appeared before her. Her integrity and sound judicial temperament are unchallenged. The Commission concludes that the Candidate would bring exceptional skills, experience and commendable personal qualities to the Supreme Court, and the Commission highly recommends her candidacy.

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Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, Allegheny County
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate is currently a Superior Court judge, having been elected in November 2007. She serves on the court’s Technology Committee and hopes to utilize advances in technology to expand electronic filing. She is passionate about improving access to the court system and educating the public about the legal system. The Candidate demonstrates significant skills in articulating her positions and writes in a clear and well-organized fashion. She is known for her intelligence, diligence, work ethic and pro bono activities. She has a strong record of community involvement and is known for her devotion to public service and personal integrity. A self-described “lifelong learner” and a law school teacher, the Candidate has the intelligence, work ethic, breadth and depth of legal and life experience to be recommended for candidacy as a justice of the Supreme Court.

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