PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases 2013 Judicial Ratings

HARRISBURG (Feb. 7, 2013) - 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. In the 2013 election, voters will be filling one seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Each candidate requesting an evaluation by the PBA JEC is eligible to receive a rating of "Highly Recommended," "Recommended" or "Not Recommended."

The PBA JEC's ratings for Pennsylvania Superior Court candidates are as follows:

Highly Recommended
Judge Edward G. Smith, Northampton County

Victor P. Stabile, Dauphin County
Joseph C. Waters Jr., Philadelphia County

"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."

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 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.


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.


Judge Edward G. Smith
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has served on the Court of Common Pleas in Northampton County since 2002, handling both civil and criminal matters. He also presides over the Asbestos Division and is the supervisory judge of the grand jury. He is a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, holding the rank of captain. He has served two tours as a military trial judge and has previously served as a military appellate judge. He served a combat tour in Iraq, earning the coveted Bronze Star for his legal skills in aiding the development of the Iraqi court system and a fair system for handling Iraqi detainees. From 1990 until his election to the bench, the Candidate was a partner in a law firm in Easton, where he had a general civil practice. Colleagues and lawyers describe the Candidate as patient, thoughtful and fair. In the courtroom, he has earned a reputation for being thorough, orderly and efficient. His written opinions are cogent and well-reasoned. Based on his exemplary military and judicial record as well as his commitment to community service, the commission believes that the Candidate possesses the legal ability and demeanor to serve with distinction on the Superior Court and highly recommends his candidacy.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

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. (Commission member Riley recused himself from participation in the evaluation and rating of this Candidate.)

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

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.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

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.