Superior Court Primary 2017    

William F. Caye II
Rating: Not Recommended

The candidate was admitted to the bar in 1994 and worked as a law clerk for a U.S. District Court judge. From 1995 to 1998, he was as an assistant district attorney. In late 1998 and 1999, the candidate was an associate at several law firms and performed work that primarily focused on criminal law and juvenile delinquency. Between 1999 and 2005, he was as a solo practitioner focusing on transactional and regulatory compliance law. From 2006 until 2015, he worked as a prosecutor in the Child Predator Unit in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. After working his way up to senior deputy attorney general, he left the Attorney General’s Office and returned to private practice.  
After reviewing the candidate’s record and based in part on his interview, the commission has concerns about the candidate’s presentation skills, his temperament, his inability to accurately recall events and his overall writing skills. Some attorneys who know him questioned his work ethic and judgment. During the interview, the candidate was evasive when responding to direct and pertinent questions. At times when pressed for answers, he raised his voice inappropriately. When questioned about past instances of his reported courtroom behavior, the candidate blamed the court and other counsel, failing to take any responsibility for his actions. This and other responses displayed a lack of professional maturity and raised questions about his temperament and collegiality.  The candidate also demonstrated an inadequate awareness about the Superior Court’s operations. For example, when asked about how he might change the court, he suggested that it should become less formal and more accommodating for postponements, less strict about time limits during oral argument and more accommodating to the litigants. When asked to reconcile how his suggestions would impact the court’s already heavy caseload, the candidate was unable to provide an intelligible answer.  With regard to his writing skills, the candidate’s responses to the questionnaire provided no indication that he has any cognizance of a formal writing style. The candidate’s other writing samples were also problematic, demonstrating a lack of ability to convey thoughts in a concise and clear manner.  

Based on all of the above, the commission does not recommend his candidacy for Superior Court.
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Albert J. Flora
Rating: Recommended

The candidate has been an accomplished trial and appellate lawyer since 1976. He worked in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, in solo practice, and as a public defender and criminal defense attorney.  His career has focused and specialized on criminal defense work and complex cases, including one for which he appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 2010, he became the chief public defender for Luzerne County, where he brought an action that required counties to provide adequate funding to ensure that all indigent clients received proper and adequate representation in the courts.  He also has broad experience in civil law, including education and labor law, complex civil litigation and personal injury work. The commission believes that the candidate has the strong intellect, work ethic, integrity, character and independence to serve on the Superior Court and recommends his candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Emil A. Giordano
Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate is an experienced jurist known for his high degree of professionalism, good judicial temperament and reputation for integrity. He is engaging, sincere, intelligent and affable. The candidate is collegial and has the ability to work with others who do not share his opinion or perspective. He has served as a common pleas court judge since 2004 and was retained for a second 10-year term in 2013.  He has a broad perspective and wide knowledge of the law, the rules of procedure and the rules of evidence because of his background and experience as a trial lawyer, prosecutor, public defender, municipal solicitor and a sitting judge. His opinions and legal writings are well reasoned. He gained experience addressing the office, personnel and fiscal needs of running a court while serving as an administrative judge for the Orphans' Court and Domestic Relations Section of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas. The candidate volunteers in his community and teaches about legal topics at local educational institutions. He has demonstrated his commitment to legal and judicial ethics as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee and Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. Because of his broad experience as a practicing attorney, proven record of judicial leadership, high ethical standards and dedication to the legal profession, the commission is confident that the candidate would serve with distinction as a Superior Court judge and highly recommends his candidacy.  

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Judge Wade A. Kagarise
Rating: Recommended

Elected to the Blair County Court of Common Pleas in 2013, the candidate has presided over a variety of cases, including civil, criminal and family matters. Prior to his tenure on the court, the candidate was the chief deputy district attorney of Blair County on a part-time basis. The candidate also maintained a private litigation practice that focused on family, civil and labor law. Although the candidate has limited time on the bench, the attorneys who practice before him agree that he has developed a judicial demeanor that will serve him well on the appellate court. His opinions are delivered in a timely manner and are well written and researched. The commission believes that the candidate would perform satisfactorily on the Superior Court and recommends his candidacy.    

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Deborah A. Kunselman
Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate serves as an administrative judge for the Civil Division of the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas. Prior to her tenure on the court, she was a litigator practicing in a variety of areas, including family law and employment discrimination. From 1998 to 2005, she served as Beaver County solicitor. She was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in 2005. During her tenure on the bench, she has been responsible for a variety of judicial efficiencies, including clearing up a significant docket backlog. She was also responsible for the implementation of the Beaver County involuntary commitment program for minors requiring drug and alcohol treatment. Her colleagues describe her as professional, knowledgeable, fair and prepared. The candidate has a writing style that is clear and easy to follow. She has extensive community involvement and has taught courses for both professional and lay audiences. Because of her experience as a practicing attorney, extensive teaching experience, proven record of judicial leadership and strong dedication to improving the quality of justice, the commission is confident that the candidate would serve with distinction as a Superior Court justice and highly recommends her candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Maria C. McLaughlin
Rating:  Recommended

The candidate has served as a family law judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 2012. After clerking for a Superior Court judge and graduating from law school in 1992, the candidate began her career with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where she was assigned to the Child Support Enforcement Unit. In 2003 she was appointed chief of that unit. Since the writing samples she submitted are limited and narrow in scope, the commission is unable to thoroughly evaluate her legal writing skills. She is described as hard working, congenial, dedicated, practical and willing to do what it takes to learn what she needs to know. The candidate is commended as an excellent mentor and for her service to the community. She is noted for her patience and fairness to litigants and lawyers who appear before her. The commission believes she possesses the requisite ability to serve on the Superior Court and recommends her candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr.
Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate currently serves on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, having been appointed and sworn into office in August 2016. Prior to his appointment, the candidate’s work history included extensive trial work. He served the commonwealth in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel and in the Office of the Attorney General. Additionally, the candidate’s work history includes the following: associate professor at the Widener School of Law; first assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; deputy special inspector general and chief of staff at the Office of the Special Inspector General for Troubled Asset Relief; and chief counsel for U.S. Sen. Edward K. Kaufman. Earlier in his career, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist. The candidate is highly regarded by those who have interacted with him, including colleagues, lawyers and law students. He has proven himself intelligent, well written, impartial and of the highest integrity. This commission believes that the candidate possesses the highest combination of legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament and, therefore, highly recommends his candidacy for the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Carolyn H. Nichols 
Rating: Recommended

Before being elected to the bench, the candidate worked for the City of Philadelphia Law Department and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and maintained a solo legal practice predominantly performing employment law. In 2011, the candidate was elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and since that time has exclusively overseen criminal matters. The candidate’s reputation among her colleagues is one of intelligence, conscientiousness and objectivity. She is known for high ethical standards. Her opinion and legal writings are well reasoned.  The commission initially had concerns that, as a consequence of reposting articles touching on social issues, it could appear as though the candidate were taking a public position on matters that might come before the court. When directly questioned on this issue, the candidate displayed respect for the commission’s concerns and was willing to re-examine her practice. In discussing the issue, the candidate demonstrated a commitment to impartiality and judicial temperament consistent with the highest standards required by the judiciary. Sensitive to the importance of maintaining impartiality, the candidate committed to personally monitor her social media posts during her campaign and to discontinue her use of social media if elected.  Based on the candidate’s strong reputation, experience and judicial temperament, the commission recommends the candidate to serve on the Superior Court. 

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Judge Paula A. Patrick
Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate currently serves on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas where she has spent the last 14 years presiding over criminal, civil, family and, most recently, complex litigation matters. She has authored more than 400 legal opinions that demonstrate sound and reasonable legal analysis as well as legal expertise. The candidate thoughtfully administers justice according to the state and federal constitutions, believing that each citizen’s rights should be upheld. Known for her judicial efficiency, she does not have a backlog in her court. Prior to being elected to the bench in 2003, the candidate was a solo practitioner engaged in civil and criminal practice. In 2015, she was appointed acting city commissioner. The commission was impressed with the candidate’s sense of fairness and work ethic and her ability to be impartial and unbiased during several high profile cases. She demonstrates her commitment to the community through her volunteerism with several organizations, and she participates on state and national committees dedicated to professional development of members of the bench. She is well respected by both her peers on the bench and attorneys who come before her. Based upon the candidate’s intellect, work ethic, even-keeled temperament, sense of fairness and integrity, the commission highly recommends her candidacy for the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Lillian Harris Ransom

Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate was appointed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in June 2016. Prior to her appointment, she diligently served on the Philadelphia Court of Common for 21 years presiding primarily over criminal and juvenile cases. Before her legal career, she was an educator, an experience that contributed to her ability to administer justice in a fair and balanced manner. As a member of the Superior Court, she continues to display her wealth of knowledge of legal principles and procedures, appropriate judicial temperament, a high level of integrity and sense of ethics, and judicial efficiency. She maintains an awareness of the impact of her decisions on the citizens of the commonwealth, which is evident in succinct and practical written opinions. The candidate has received numerous national and state awards for her contributions to the legal profession and education. The commission believes that, based on her knowledge, temperament and commitment to justice for all who appear before her, the candidate is capable of being an outstanding member of the Superior Court and highly recommends her candidacy.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Carl A. Solano
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The candidate currently serves on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, having been appointed in June 2016.  Prior to his tenure on the court, he practiced law for 38 years, including 32 years as a partner in the litigation department of a large Philadelphia firm. He has handled appellate litigation in state and federal courts throughout the United States. His appellate experience has included several high-profile cases. He has handled numerous pro bono cases on behalf of poor and indigent clients, including one that set a new legal standard for the appointment of legal counsel for indigent civil litigants in federal court that is cited throughout the country. The candidate possesses high intellectual ability and talent as well as a strong work ethic, which is critical in addressing the high volume of cases presented to the Superior Court. His legal writing, both on the bench and in practice as an attorney, is clear, well reasoned, nuanced, sophisticated yet accessible. He has earned the respect of other judges of the Superior Court. His reputation in the legal community is unsurpassed, not only for his intellect but also for his integrity and professionalism. The candidate has the breadth of experience, intellect, work ethic and temperament to serve with distinction on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and the commission highly recommends his candidacy.

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Craig W. Stedman

Rating: Highly Recommended

The candidate is the current Lancaster County district attorney. He was elected to the position in 2007 after serving 17 years as an assistant attorney in that office in a variety of leadership roles. The candidate’s practice in the District Attorney’s Office has included the successful prosecution of a variety of crimes, including complex homicide and sexual abuse cases. The candidate has argued before the Superior Court on numerous occasions. As district attorney, the candidate sets the priorities and policies of the office, and, in the exercise of discretion, he exhibits fairness and a commitment to outreach, prevention and education. Under his leadership, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office has implemented a variety of programs directed at addressing the current heroin epidemic. The commission was impressed with the candidate’s commitment to fairness and his even-keeled temperament, which he attributes to his training in the U.S. Army, where he achieved the rank of captain in military intelligence. While the candidate’s career has been primarily focused on criminal law, the commission is confident of his intellectual capabilities and the ability to transfer legal principles and reasoning to other areas of law required to serve on the Superior Court. The candidate has a strong history of community service in the Lancaster area, which has been primarily focused on crime and safety. Because of his intelligence, commitment to fairness and high ethical standards, the commission highly recommends the candidate for the Superior Court.  

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.