PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION JUDICIAL EVALUATION COMMISSION 2017 COMMONWEALTH COURT CANDIDATE RATINGS    
Rep. Bryan E. Barbin
Rating: Recommended

The candidate was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2009 and currently serves as a member of the House Judicial Committee. He attended the University of Richmond and the University of Pittsburgh Law School. He began his career in 1982 as a judicial clerk for the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. From 1983-1989, he was a deputy in the Tax and Finance Section of the Office of Attorney General. He transitioned into private practice in Dauphin and Cambria counties, primarily focusing on tax litigation. Since 2009, he has been of counsel at a Harrisburg law firm. In his practice, he serves as special tax counsel to municipalities, school districts and boards of assessment. The candidate is a member of several civic, social and charitable organizations. He was appointed to the Veterans Justice Statewide Task Force by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In the judgment of the commission, the candidate possesses the legal ability, experience, integrity and judicial temperament to serve as judge of the Commonwealth Court. The commission recommends his candidacy.

Read the  candidate’s questionnaire.

W. Timothy Barry 
Rating: Recommended

The candidate has a broad range of experience in the areas of domestic relations, real estate, corporate, trusts and estates, municipal law, and labor and employment law. During his 37-year career, the candidate has been a law clerk and a partner in various small firms. He is currently a solo practitioner and serves as an arbitrator for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation. The candidate has tried numerous labor arbitrations and has tried cases to verdict in both state and federal courts. He also has appeared before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme courts, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He is highly regarded and has a long history of pro bono and community service. He has demonstrated a strong work ethic, professionalism and fairness in his interactions with clients and colleagues. The candidate is known for his integrity, knowledge of law and competence. The commission believes that the candidate will perform satisfactorily as a judge of the Commonwealth Court and recommends his candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon
Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate has since 2012 served as a judge on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas where she heads the civil trial section overseeing both civil and equity matters. At the same time, she has served as pretrial judge, responsible for deciding more than 800 motions and petitions. Having graduated from law school with honors, the candidate has continued her legal scholarship by lecturing extensively throughout the commonwealth on various areas of law. The candidate's legal writing is clear, concise and thorough. Her courtroom demeanor has earned the respect of her colleagues as well as that of the attorneys and litigants who appear before her. The candidate's extensive civic activities add depth to her illustrious legal career. The commission believes that the candidate would perform admirably as a judge on the Commonwealth Court and highly recommends her candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Ellen H. Ceisler
Rating: Recommended

The candidate has been a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for nine years. During her first five years, she handled criminal trials. She was then assigned to civil motions and more recently to major civil trials. The candidate has a thorough knowledge of the rules of evidence and courtroom procedures. Prior to her being elected to the bench in 2007, she had a diverse work background, including experience as a prosecutor, investigative producer and litigator. She has served as director of the Integrity and Accountability Office of the Philadelphia Police Department and legal adviser to the Sheriff's Office of Philadelphia. Her judicial temperament is one of fairness, thoroughness, independence and integrity. The candidate has administrative experience, which she gained from serving with the Philadelphia City Controllers' Office as a director of the Special Investigations and Fraud Unit. The commission recommends the candidate for the Commonwealth Court.
   
Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Irene McLaughlin Clark
Rating: Not Recommended

After graduating from law school, the candidate has been employed in a variety of positions handling civil litigation and divorce and custody proceedings. In 1993, the candidate was appointed to the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, where she continued to serve until 2003. Since that time, the candidate served in a variety of positions and maintained a private law practice addressing the problem of municipal blight.  Although the candidate’s record demonstrates a commitment to justice and a strong work ethic, she has minimal experience that would lend itself to an appellate court position. The candidate has little courtroom experience as an advocate.  Her experience with the rules of evidence and courtroom procedure is limited to the time she served as a Pittsburgh magistrate and Housing Court judge. The candidate candidly admitted that she had very limited experience as a trial or appellate advocate and no experience in writing briefs or opinions. This indicates to the commission that her exposure within the legal system is very narrow.  Given the candidate’s minimal experience as outlined above, the commission does not recommend her candidacy for the Commonwealth Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Joseph M. Cosgrove
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The candidate currently serves on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, having been appointed by the governor in June 2016. He previously served as a judge on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, as chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and as counsel to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. He has also maintained a private practice as a solo practitioner and served as an assistant public defender. During his career, he was primarily a trial attorney in both criminal and civil litigation matters. He also has extensive experience arguing before appellate courts. The candidate possesses solid knowledge of legal principles and procedure. He displays the ability to write in a clear and concise manner indicating his grasp of legal issues. The candidate is held in high esteem for his ethics and dedication to the legal profession. He has excelled in all aspects of his personal and professional life and has been an exemplary citizen, as well as an exceptional lawyer and judge with good judicial temperament. The commission is confident that the candidate will continue to serve with distinction on the Commonwealth Court and highly recommends his candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

R. Todd Eagen
Rating: Recommended

Throughout his career as an attorney, the candidate has been held in high regard by his peers who commend his fairness, industrious work ethic and collegiality. Following graduation from law school, the candidate served as a law clerk to a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Since that time, the candidate has been in private practice with various law firms, focusing on labor and employment law and representing public sector unions with an emphasis on law enforcement unions. The candidate’s writings are clear and concise, and his knowledge of the law is above average. He has a wealth of experience before the Commonwealth Court and extensive experience as an arbitrator in public sector labor disputes. The candidate has participated in local bar association activities and presently serves the community in church activities. Based on his strong intellect, fairness and work ethic, the commission recommends the candidate for the Commonwealth Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Paul N. Lalley
Rating:  Recommended

Throughout his career as an attorney, the candidate has been held in high regard by his colleagues who describe him as being forthright, intelligent, collegial, scholarly, well prepared and a gentleman. After graduation from law school in 1996, he served as a clerk to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and has since been in private practice. He has primarily represented public sector clients in labor and employment matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. He also has extensive experience in labor arbitrations and fact-finding hearings and negotiating collective bargaining agreements. He has demonstrated dedication to the improvement of the quality of justice through his extensive lecturing and course planning experience and presentations to statewide organizations, municipalities and school boards. Based upon the candidate’s legal ability, temperament and awareness of the importance of the rule of law, the commission recommends him for the Commonwealth Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.