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PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases Fifth and Final Round of 2009 Judicial Ratings

HARRISBURG (March 24, 2009) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) today released its fifth and final round of ratings for potential judicial candidates seeking election to the state's appellate courts in November.

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 fifth round of evaluations are as follows:

Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Judge Thomas J. Munley, Lackawanna County

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania -
Recommended

Stephen G. Pollock, Philadelphia County

In four 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

Recommended
Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, Allegheny County

Superior Court of Pennsylvania -
Highly Recommended
Judge Anne E. Lazarus, Philadelphia County
Judge Judith F. Olson, Allegheny County

Recommended
Judge Robert J. Colville, Allegheny County
Kevin F. McCarthy, Allegheny County
Sallie Updyke Mundy, Tioga 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
Kevin Brobson, Dauphin County
Judge Alfonso Frioni Jr., Allegheny County
Linda S. Judson, Allegheny County
Judge James Murray Lynn, Philadelphia County
Judge Patricia A. McCullough, Allegheny 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.

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Hon. Thomas J. Munley
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County since January 2006. For 31 years prior to his service on the bench, he was a sole practitioner and assistant public defender, primarily practicing in the area of criminal defense. During that period, he had extensive jury trial experience. As a trial judge, he has presided over family law and juvenile matters. He has the reputation of treating all who appear before him with respect and dignity. He served with distinction in the military and has served the community through his work for veterans' organizations. For eight years, he appeared on a nightly television show to dispense legal advice as a service to the public. On the basis of his extensive trial experience and excellent judicial temperament, the Commission recommends the candidate for a position on the Superior Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Stephen G. Pollock
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has been a practicing attorney for more than 32 years and has a broad range of experience in general litigation, workers' compensation, transactional, real estate, municipal, land use and zoning law. In recent years, he has limited his practice to land use and zoning issues. He is widely recognized as an expert in these areas and has lectured widely. The Candidate has served on a township planning commission since 1991. In 2003, he was appointed by the governor to the State Planning Board. He has served as co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Committee on Zoning, Land Use and Code Enforcement. He is involved in community organizations. He was actively engaged as the president of his synagogue and a local library association. The Candidate is bright, scholarly, hard working and has excellent legal writing ability. His excellent temperament and expertise in the area of zoning and land use form the basis for the Commission's recommendation of the Candidate for a position on the Commonwealth Court.

Read the Candidate's questionnaire.