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PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases Fourth Round of 2009 Judicial Ratings

HARRISBURG (Feb. 4, 2009) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) today released its fourth round of ratings for potential judicial candidates seeking election to the state's appellate courts in November. The ratings released today are for Republican candidates who were evaluated by the Commission last week, and the ratings are being issued prior to the Republican State Committee meeting this weekend. Ratings for Democratic candidates evaluated by the Commission last week were issued last Friday, just prior to last weekend's meeting of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee.

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 completed during the fourth round of evaluations are as follows:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, Allegheny County

Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended

Judge Judith F. Olson, Allegheny County

Recommended
Sallie Updyke Mundy, Tioga County

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Kevin Brobson, Dauphin County
Judge Patricia A. McCullough, Allegheny County

In three earlier rounds of judicial evaluations, the PBA JEC issued these ratings:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended

Judge Cheryl L. Allen, Allegheny County
Judge Joan Orie Melvin, Allegheny County
Judge Jack A. Panella, Northampton County
Judge Paul Panepinto, Philadelphia County
Judge Teresa Sarmina, Philadelphia County

Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended

Judge Anne E. Lazarus, Philadelphia County

Recommended
Judge Robert J. Colville, Allegheny County
Kevin F. McCarthy, Allegheny County
Judge Paula A. Patrick, Philadelphia County
Templeton Smith Jr., Allegheny County
Judge John Milton Younge, Philadelphia County

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Daniel K. Bricmont, Allegheny County
Judge Alfonso Frioni Jr., Allegheny County
Linda S. Judson, Allegheny County
Judge James Murray Lynn, Philadelphia County
Michael Sherman, Allegheny County

Not Recommended
Barbara Jo Ernsberger, 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

Hon. Jacqueline O. Shogan
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate is currently a Superior Court judge, having been elected in November 2007. She serves on the court's Technology Committee and hopes to utilize advances in technology to expand electronic filing. She is passionate about improving access to the court system and educating the public about the legal system. The Candidate demonstrates significant skills in articulating her positions and writes in a clear and well-organized fashion. She is known for her intelligence, diligence, work ethic and pro bono activities. She has a strong record of community involvement and is known for her devotion to public service and personal integrity. A self-described "lifelong learner" and a law school teacher, the Candidate has the intelligence, work ethic and breadth and depth of legal and life experience to be recommended for candidacy as a justice of the Supreme Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Sallie Updyke Mundy
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has had diverse legal experience in her twenty-one year legal career. She has handled a variety of civil litigation matters, including medical malpractice defense cases and plaintiff personal injury cases. Recently, the Candidate has served as a voluntary assistant public defender in Tioga County. She has served as a member and then chair of a hearing committee of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Candidate is bright and articulate and is regarded by her peers as personable, hardworking and compassion. She is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of justice and her writings are clear and concise. The Commission recommends her 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.

Hon. Judith F. Olson
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate excelled academically in both college and law school. She was a skilled and successful litigator, with broad experience in both the trial and appellate courts. In October 2008, she was appointed to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. She is regarded by her peers as intelligent, ethical, congenial and fair and has a well-rounded reputation for diligence and productivity. Her character and integrity are beyond reproach, and she brings energy and enthusiasm to a commitment for the improvement of justice. In addition, the Candidate is committed to extensive community service. The Commission highly recommends her for a seat on the Superior Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Kevin Brobson
Rating: Recommended

Since completing his federal judicial clerkship, the Candidate has concentrated his practice in the areas of administrative law and insurance law, both of which fall within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court. His writings are analytical, logical, clear, cogent and easily read. Even though he is involved in a busy, complex practice, the Candidate has found time for civic duties and community service. He has demonstrated the legal ability sufficient to have earned the respect of lawyers and members of the bench. The Candidate possesses the requisite knowledge of the rules of evidence and courtroom procedures. He has the appropriate judicial temperament. Based on his credentials, experience, and writing ability, the Candidate is recommended to serve on the Commonwealth Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

Hon. Patricia A. McCullough
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate worked for eight years as assistant general counsel for the University of Pittsburgh. She also has practiced law as a solo practitioner in Pittsburgh. She has served on the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review. The Candidate was appointed as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and served for nine months as a Family Law Court judge. She also served as executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for a year. The Candidate has an impressive record of community service and is regarded as bright and committed to her work. Although the Candidate's trial court and appellate experience is somewhat limited, the Commission concludes that she would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge of the Commonwealth Court. (Commission member Shepard recused himself from participation in the evaluation and rating of this Candidate.)

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.