PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases First Round of 2009 Judicial Ratings

HARRISBURG (Jan. 14, 2009) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) today released its ratings of potential judicial candidates seeking election to the state's appellate courts in November.

Each candidate requesting an evaluation by the PBA JEC is eligible to receive a rating of "Highly Recommended," "Recommended" or "Not Recommended." More evaluations with other potential candidates will be held later this month.

The PBA JEC's ratings completed during the first round of evaluations are as follows:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended

Judge Cheryl L. Allen, Allegheny County
Judge Jack A. Panella, Northampton County

Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended

Judge Anne E. Lazarus, Philadelphia County

Recommended
Judge Robert J. Colville, Allegheny County
Templeton Smith Jr., Allegheny County
Judge John Milton Younge, Philadelphia County

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Judge Alfonso Frioni Jr., Allegheny County

During the upcoming elections, voters will be filling one seat on the Supreme Court, three seats on the Superior Court and two seats on the Commonwealth Court. Voters also will be deciding on the retention of three appellate judges.

"The PBA JEC provides information to help voters choose candidates best suited to serve as fair, impartial and knowledgeable judges," said Pittsburgh lawyer Chris F. Gillotti, 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 our appellate benches."

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 in Harrisburg, discussed his or her qualifications and reached consensus on each candidate's rating.

Serving with Gillotti in the leadership of the PBA JEC is Erie County lawyer Steven E. (Tim) Riley Jr. as co-vice chair and Montgomery County lawyer Robert F. Morris as co-vice chair. Lawyer members include Michael A. Bloom of Philadelphia County; Frederick N. Egler Jr. of Allegheny County; Stephanie F. Latimore of Dauphin County; Lucille Marsh of Lackawanna County; Heidi B. Masano of Berks County; Pamela J. Mayer of Cambria County; Dianne I. Nichols of Dauphin County; Rebecca L. Reinhardt of Lycoming County; Mark D. Shepard of Allegheny County; John F. Stoviak of Philadelphia County; and Joseph C. Waters Jr. of Philadelphia County. Non-lawyer members are Denice Ferranti-Robinson of Fayette County; Jeraldine D. Kozloff of Berks County; Susan Sherman of Philadelphia County; John D. Unangst of Delaware County; and Diane Wakefield of Beaver County.

RATINGS' DEFINITIONS

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.

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Honorable Cheryl L. Allen
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.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

Honorable Jack A. Panella
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.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Honorable Robert J. Colville
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has served as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County since 2000. Prior to becoming a judge, the candidate was in private practice and had served as a law clerk for Justice Ralph J. Cappy. Although he was elected to the bench at a relatively young age, he has clearly demonstrated sufficient legal ability and judicial temperament to have earned the respect of lawyers and other members of the bench. His work as the toxic substance case supervising judge highlights his administrative ability. The Candidate is extremely hard working and passionate about the improvement of the quality of justice. He enjoys and thoroughly understands his role as a judge. The Commission believes that the Candidate possesses the character, integrity, judicial temperament and skills to serve as a Superior Court judge.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

Honorable Anne E. Lazarus
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has served as a common pleas judge in Philadelphia County for 18 years. She was elected to a 10-year term in November 1991 and retained for a second term in 2001. For the past five years, she has served as an Orphan's Court judge. She previously served as a law clerk and practiced law in a solo practice and later with a large firm. The Candidate serves as chair of the Ethics Committee of the State Conference of Trial Judges and is called upon for advice on ethical questions by members of both the bench and bar. She has an impressive record of facilitating settlement in a large number of cases assigned to her. The Candidate is intelligent, thoughtful, candid and scholarly, and she demonstrates superior writing ability, knowledge of the law and exceptional judicial temperament. Her advocacy of pro bono service has encouraged lawyers to participate in these programs. The candidate has mentored law students and young lawyers and has served in many capacities in community organizations. The Commission concludes that the Candidate would bring exceptional skills, experience and personal qualities to the Superior Court and would serve the court and the commonwealth with distinction.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

Templeton Smith Jr.
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has extensive experience as an appellate advocate and has appeared before the Superior Court on numerous occasions. His substantive legal experience covers a wide variety of areas, including zoning, land use, commercial, medical malpractice and tort litigation. The Candidate is recognized for his strong writing abilities, scholarly legal analysis and effective advocacy. He has taught continuing legal education courses and has participated in bar association committees. In addition, he has provided pro bono support for church and community organizations. The Candidate has the requisite legal experience, intellectual ability, character and integrity to render him competent to fulfill the demanding responsibilities of a Superior Court judge and, therefore, the Commission recommends him for a position on the court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

Honorable John Milton Younge
Rating: Recommended

With a long history of public service, the Candidate currently serves as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. During his twelve-year tenure, he has presided over a diverse and heavy caseload in both the civil and criminal divisions. His fairness and judicial demeanor are uniformly praised. Prior to becoming a judge, the Candidate served as staff counsel, deputy executive director and general counsel to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. He previously maintained a solo law practice. He is active in his church and the community. His past service as president of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges indicates the high regard in which he is held by his peers. The Commission believes the Candidate possesses the requisite legal ability and experience, character, integrity and work ethic to recommend him for a position on the Superior Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Honorable Alfonso Frioni Jr.
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has served as one of 15 administrative appeals judges/commissioners on the State Workers' Compensation Appeals Board since 1996. The board has statewide jurisdiction and the Candidate travels extensively to handle the large caseload. Although his legal expertise is narrowly focused in the area of workers' compensation, he is committed to maintaining the legitimacy and competency of the Appeals Board and seeks to inspire confidence in all those appearing before it. The Candidate has demonstrated competence and integrity in his professional and personal life and has a dedicated record of community service. The Commission believes the Candidate would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge on the Commonwealth Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

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