Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases Second Round of 2015 Judicial Ratings

HARRISBURG (Feb. 10, 2015) – The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) today released a second round of ratings for potential judicial candidates seeking election to the state's appellate courts in November. In the 2015 election, voters will be filling three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, one seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court and one seat on the Commonwealth 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 second round of ratings for potential judicial candidates are as follows:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania –

Highly Recommended
Judge Judith F. Olson, Allegheny County

Not Recommended
Judge Anne E. Covey, Bucks County

"With the large slate of candidates vying this year for the three seats open on the Supreme Court and one each on the Superior and Commonwealth courts, voters will be challenged to make informed choices of those candidates best suited to serve as fair, impartial and knowledgeable appellate court judges,” said Robert F. Morris, chair of the PBA JEC. "The PBA JEC seeks to give voters guidance by only recommending potential candidates who have the legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament needed to provide satisfactory or outstanding performance as judges on 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 Morris in the leadership of the PBA JEC is Berks County lawyer Heidi B. Masano as vice chair and Erie County lawyer Steven E. (Tim) Riley Jr. as immediate past chair. Lawyer members include A. Harold Datz of Philadelphia County; Richard A. Estacio of Montgomery County; Nancy Lauffer Heilman of Allegheny County; Richard B. Henry of Wayne County; Stephanie F. Latimore of Dauphin County; Sharon R. Lopez of Lancaster County; C. Edward S. Mitchell of Lycoming County; Kimberly Moses of Allegheny County; Howard A. Rothenberg of Lackawanna County; and Lorrie E. Whitfield of Monroe County. Non-lawyer members are Keith Eckel of Lackawanna County; Denice Ferranti-Robinson of Fayette County; Edith Marino of Lycoming County; Ernest F. Salvino of Centre County; Susan Sherman of Philadelphia County; and Matthew Woessner of Dauphin 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

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.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

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.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

On Jan. 28, the Commission issued its first round of ratings for these potential candidates:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania –

Highly Recommended
Judge Cheryl L. Allen, Allegheny County
Judge Christine L. Donohue, Allegheny County
Judge Anne E. Lazarus, Philadelphia County
Justice Correale F. Stevens, Luzerne County
Judge David N. Wecht, Allegheny County

Recommended
Judge John T. Bender, Allegheny County
Judge Kevin M. Dougherty, Philadelphia County
Judge John H. Foradora, Jefferson County
Judge Michael A. George, Adams County
Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer, Centre County
Judge Paul P. Panepinto, Philadelphia County
Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff, Allegheny County

Not Recommended
Rebecca L. Warren, Montour County

Superior Court of Pennsylvania –

Highly Recommended
Judge Robert J. Colville, Allegheny County

Recommended
Judge Alice B. Dubow, Philadelphia County
Judge Emil A. Giordano, Northampton County
Judge Paul P. Panepinto, Philadelphia County
Judge Douglas G. Reichley, Lehigh County
David E. Robbins, Delaware County

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania –

Recommended
R. Todd Eagen, Dauphin County
Judge Emil A. Giordano, Northampton County
Paul N. Lalley, Allegheny County
Judge Paul P. Panepinto, Philadelphia County
Scot R. Withers, Chester County
Michael H. Wojcik, Allegheny County

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 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.