PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION JUDICIAL EVALUATION COMMISSION 2015 SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE RATINGS

Judge Cheryl L. Allen
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate currently serves on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, having been elected in November 2007. Prior to her tenure on the Superior Court, she served as a judge on the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County for 17 years. The Candidate is an intelligent and independent jurist who prepares clearly-written, well-reasoned and fair opinions. The Candidate sets the standard for administrative efficiency on the Superior Court. She is held in high esteem by her colleagues on the bench as well as by lawyers and litigants who appear before her. The Candidate has demonstrated her dedication to the improvement of the quality of justice by participating in various bar association committees and events. She also has an extensive history of service to the community. Because the Candidate possesses the highest combination of legal ability, experience, integrity, and temperament, the Commission highly recommends her candidacy for the Supreme Court.

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Judge John T. Bender
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has served on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania since January 2002. He has earned a reputation as a fair-minded and capable jurist. He regularly delivers concise, consistent and clear opinions. His opinions are well reasoned and easily readable regardless of the subject matter's complexity. He has an excellent judicial temperament and is known for being well prepared, polite and attentive during arguments in cases before him. He has demonstrated a thorough grasp of both substantive legal and procedural issues. He has actively served on the Appellate Court Rules Committee, while maintaining a commitment to his day-to-day administrative and substantive duties as a judge. He has been elected by his fellow judges to be an interim president judge of the Superior Court. The Commission recommends the Candidate for election to the Supreme Court.

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Judge Anne E. Covey
Rating: Not Recommended

Shortly after being admitted to the bar, the Candidate entered the private practice of law, first as an associate and then as a partner, spending most of this part of her career at two different New Jersey law firms. In 1996, she opened her own law office in Lambertville, New Jersey. During the years of her private practice, the Candidate represented corporations in labor and employment matters. From 2002 until 2011, she was a member of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. In 2011, she was elected as a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Her opinions as a member of the Commonwealth Court have been well written, clear and concise. In connection with her 2011 campaign for Commonwealth Court, the candidate signed a pledge to not engage in false or misleading campaign advertising. The commission viewed one of her campaign advertisements, which aired in early November of 2011, and concluded she violated her pledge. Moreover, when questioned about the matter, in the Commission's opinion, she was not forthright in her responses. Because of violations of her 2011 campaign advertising pledge, and her recent failure to answer the Commission's questions about her advertisement in an honest and straightforward manner, the Commission cannot recommend her candidacy for the Supreme Court.

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Judge Christine L. Donohue
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has been a judge on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania since January 2008. Prior to her tenure on the court, she was a practicing attorney with extensive civil trial and appellate court experience. She demonstrates a wealth of knowledge in a variety of areas, including civil, domestic relations, criminal and constitutional matters. The Candidate's reputation among her colleagues is one of intelligence, conscientiousness and objectivity, and she is known for possessing high ethical standards. Her opinions and legal writings are well-reasoned. She has demonstrated her commitment to legal and judicial ethics as a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline. She also has extensive community involvement and has taught courses for both professional and lay audiences. Because of her broad experience as a practicing attorney, proven record of judicial leadership and ethics and dedication to the legal profession, the Commission is confident that the Candidate would serve with distinction as a Supreme Court justice and highly recommends her candidacy.

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Judge Kevin M. Dougherty
Rating: Recommended

Before being appointed to the trial bench, the Candidate worked as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and in private practice as a criminal and civil litigator. He was appointed by the governor in 2001 to fill an unexpired term on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. He was then elected to a 10-year term in 2001 and retained in 2011. He has been appointed to serve as chair of the administrative governing board in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and administrative judge of the trial division. He had served previously as administrative judge of the family division and supervising judge of the juvenile branch. In these roles, he implemented innovative solutions to problems in the juvenile dependency and delinquency areas. He has served on statewide commissions studying juvenile justice issues and statewide committees recommending domestic relations and juvenile court procedural rules. He is a strong administrator. Considered fair, open-minded, courteous and a good listener, he also is a hard worker and a consensus builder. Based on his judicial and administrative experience and his work ethic, judicial temperament and integrity, the Commission recommends the Candidate to serve on the Supreme Court.

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Judge John H. Foradora
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate is a sitting common pleas court judge in a one-judge judicial district. His private practice provided him with a broad array of experience in criminal defense, domestic matters, business law and administrative practice. The Candidate has in-depth understanding of substantive and procedural law. He has a reputation for good judicial temperament, as well as excellent character and integrity. One of the Candidate's strengths is his ability to administer his judicial office. Notable among his achievements is his ability to bring reform to his county court. The Commission recommends the Candidate for service as a Supreme Court justice.

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Judge Michael A. George
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate serves as the president judge on the Adams County Court of Common Pleas. He was elected to the court in 1999 and has presided over a variety of cases, including criminal, civil and family matters. Prior to his tenure on the court, the Candidate served as the Adams County District Attorney for five years. The Candidate is reported to possess a calm, professional and fair judicial demeanor and has a reputation as an excellent administrator. His legal opinions and rulings are regarded as well reasoned, and he has demonstrated his commitment to the legal profession by participating in various bar association programs. The Commission believes that the Candidate would perform satisfactorily as a justice on the Supreme Court and recommends his candidacy.

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Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has served as a judge on the Commonwealth Court for the past 13 years. She has a reputation for being intelligent, engaged, thorough, collegial, ethical and hard working. She possesses good judicial temperament and is known to be courteous, compassionate and impartial. She is described as having a well-defined sense of justice and works hard to improve the quality of justice through her contribution to continuing education for lawyers and judges. Her legal opinions are well written and reflect her ability to interpret and apply legal principles and provide clear direction for advocates and agencies. She is highly regarded by members of the bar. Her service on the Commonwealth Court demonstrates her ability to fulfill the responsibilities of an appellate court judge. The Commission recommends her as a candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court.

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Judge Anne E. Lazarus
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate served with distinction on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas before ascending in 2010 to the Pennsylvania Superior Court bench, where she also has served with distinction. She currently serves on the Judicial Conduct Board and was appointed chair of the Ad Hoc Supreme Court Committee to draft a new Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which was adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in July 2014. Recently, she received the Sandra Day O'Connor Award, given by the Philadelphia Bar Association to a lawyer who has achieved prominence and the highest degree of professional excellence. She possesses exemplary knowledge of legal principles and procedures. She has demonstrated that she is a gifted and thoughtful legal scholar who writes clearly and concisely. She has an even and fair-minded temperament and is respectful of other judges and the lawyers and litigants involved in matters that come before her. She repeatedly is described as demonstrating the ethical and personal conduct reflective of the appropriate standard for the judiciary and is regarded by her colleagues as a person of the highest integrity. The Candidate has the breadth of experience and knowledge to serve with distinction on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and is highly recommended by the Commission.

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Judge Judith F. Olson
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate is a keen legal thinker and the author of well-reasoned and well-written opinions. The Candidate started her legal career as a highly-regarded legal scholar and a well-organized litigator handling complex civil litigation. The Candidate practiced in state and federal courts. She ascended to the bench first as a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. After serving nearly a year as a trial court judge, she began her service as a judge in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, where she has served since 2010. The Candidate is consistently assessed as having a high level of integrity and a congenial, courteous and professional demeanor, which has been praised by colleagues, advocates and court staff. As a serving Superior Court judge, the Candidate has demonstrated her excellent administrative skills, which are evidenced by her ability to issue more than 300 opinions a year with other Superior Court panelists. The Candidate has been involved in bar association functions, community activities promoting education and mentoring, nonprofit organizations supporting health care initiatives, institutions of higher education and church organizations. The Commission is confident the Candidate meets the rigorous standards required to receive the rating of highly recommended for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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Judge Paul P. Panepinto
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate is an experienced jurist with more than two decades of service on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. During his tenure on the bench, the Candidate worked to develop specialty courts and managed complex litigation matters. The Candidate is knowledgeable about the law and procedure. The Candidate's reputation among litigants and counsel is generally positive. The Candidate engages in community service by teaching at local institutions of higher education. The Commission believes the Candidate can meet the intellectual demands of a Supreme Court justice and therefore recommends his candidacy.

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Justice Correale F. Stevens
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has served as a Pennsylvania jurist for 24 years. Commencing in 1991 and continuing through 1998, the Candidate served on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. From 1998 through 2013, he sat on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, serving as its president judge in his final years on that court. Currently, the Candidate is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, having been appointed by the governor in 2013 and confirmed unanimously for that seat by the Senate of Pennsylvania. With this history of service to the Pennsylvania court system, the Candidate brings a unique and wide breadth of experience on the workings of the court system and interpretation and application of Pennsylvania law. The Candidate's opinions evidence thoughtful, scholarly research and demonstrate his keen intellect and his exemplary ability to analyze the law. The Candidate is respectful to all those who come before him and is respected and well regarded by those who work with him. His love of the law is apparent from his long service to the judicial system. He has the breadth of experience and knowledge required to serve with distinction on the Supreme Court and is highly recommended by the Commission.

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Rebecca L. Warren
Rating: Not Recommended

For most of her career, the Candidate worked as a civil litigator. She handled a variety of matters, including contract disputes, trusts and estates, family law matters, real estate and transactions. In 2011, she was elected district attorney of Montour County and presently serves in that capacity. For most of her tenure, she has been the only prosecutor for Montour County and has been supported by a small staff. While she has handled a broad range of civil and criminal matters, the Commission is concerned about the depth and breadth of her appellate-level experience. The Commission also has concerns about whether the Candidate currently possesses the temperament, collegiality and demeanor required of an appellate court judge. For these reasons, the Commission at this time does not recommend the Candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court.

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Judge David N. Wecht
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has consistently shown his affinity for the law since the beginning of his legal career as a hardworking and prolific lawyer, and, more recently, as a distinguished member of the judiciary for the last 12 years. While serving as a common pleas court judge in Allegheny County, he created the innovative “One Family, One Judge” program that sought and achieved consistency in matters before the family court division. The Candidate has presided over many cases in the civil division of the common pleas court as well. The Candidate ascended to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2011, where he further honed his skills as a well-respected and thoughtful jurist. His opinions during his tenure on both courts have been well reasoned, thorough and cogent, demonstrating a deep understanding of the often-complex legal issues involved and providing clear guidance on future matters to the courts, attorneys and litigants. His forward-thinking approach to the law, unquestioned legal ability, integrity and judicial temperament would serve him well, and the Commission highly recommends him for a seat on the Supreme Court.

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Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has been a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas since 2005. Prior to his tenure on the bench, he was a founding partner at a Pittsburgh law firm and regional vice president/director of operations and counsel for a financial services company. He has practiced in the areas of insurance defense, product liability, personal injury and real estate tax law. The Candidate is regarded by his colleagues and the bar as a dedicated, hard-working judge who is committed to justice and fairness. His legal opinions are well reasoned, logical and designed to clearly explain the law and his legal conclusions. The Candidate's commitment to juvenile justice is well known throughout the commonwealth and is demonstrated by his active participation in a variety of bar associations and committees. He is active in numerous community and nonprofit organizations. Based on legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament, the Candidate could perform satisfactorily as a justice on the Supreme Court, and the Commission recommends his candidacy.

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