About PBA         Casemaker         Pennsylvania Bar Institute         Pennsylvania Bar Foundation         Calendar Calendar                
For Lawyers                          For the Public                          Events & Education                          News & Publications                          Get Involved

HARRISBURG (Sept. 14, 2005) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission today released its ratings of two Supreme Court justices who are standing for retention in the November 2005 election.

The ratings for each retention candidate are:

Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Sandra Schultz Newman - Recommended
Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Russell M. Nigro - Recommended
(Editor's Note: Descriptive paragraphs supporting each retention rating are below.)

"The Commission's job is to help the citizens of Pennsylvania make informed choices about their judges before they enter the voting booth," said PBA JEC Chair Michael A. Bloom of Philadelphia. "We have a duty to recommend to the public the very best candidates for judicial office, so that all of us can be assured of having the very best judges on our appellate benches," he said.

Because retention elections require only a "Yes" or "No" vote of the public, the Commission rates retention candidates either as "Recommended" or "Not Recommended."

It based its findings for each candidate on a two-part evaluation process. Investigative panels conducted the first phase of the process, which included a thorough review of the candidate's completed questionnaire, an analysis of written opinions authored by the retention candidate within the last three to five years, and interviews with judges and lawyers who have appeared before the retention candidate. The panels then submitted confidential written reports to the Commission outlining their preliminary, non-binding recommendations.

Upon receipt and review of the investigative panel's report, the Commission interviewed the investigative panel chair and rendered its own evaluation and recommendation.

Serving with Bloom in the leadership of the PBA JEC is Erie lawyer Steven E. "Tim" Riley as vice chair. Lawyer members include Frederick N. Egler Jr. of Allegheny County; Lucille Marsh of Lackawanna County; Heidi B. Masano of Berks County; Pamela J. Mayer of Westmoreland County; John R. McGinley Jr. of Allegheny County; Dianne I. Nichols of Cumberland County; Jeffrey B. Rotwitt of Philadelphia County; Mark D. Shepard of Allegheny County; Kathryn Lease Simpson of Dauphin County; John F. Stoviak of Philadelphia County; and Louis N. Teti of Chester County. Lay members are Ann Amore of Montgomery County; Esther Bush of Allegheny County; Jane G. Pepper of Delaware County; and R. Thomas Williamson of Lawrence County.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association exists to promote justice, professional excellence and respect of the law; improve public understanding of the justice system; and facilitate access to legal services. The PBA represents more than 27,000 lawyers who are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.


The Honorable Sandra Schultz Newman
Supreme Court
Rating: Recommended

Justice Newman was elected to the Supreme Court in 1996 after serving as a Judge on the Commonwealth Court for two years. Prior to becoming a Judge, Justice Newman was in private practice for twenty years, and before that served for two years as an Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County. During her term on the Supreme Court, Justice Newman has earned a reputation as a dedicated, intelligent and hard working jurist who possesses a keen business sense and an ability to understand complex issues. She is an independent thinker, well prepared, attentive, and respectful of counsel during argument before the Court. Her written opinions reflect a thorough understanding of the facts and the record below and are clear, well written and logical. In the performance of her administrative duties on the Court, Justice Newman has proven to be an able administrator, especially in her position as liaison to the First Judicial District (Philadelphia County) of Pennsylvania. Her numerous community activities, honors and awards speak to her long-term devotion to her community, to the Commonwealth, and to the improvement of equal justice under the law. Justice Newman is held in high esteem by her judicial colleagues, by those who have appeared before her and by those who have worked with her. She unquestionably has earned the right to be retained on the Commonwealth's highest Court.

The Honorable Russell M. Nigro
Supreme Court
Rating: Recommended

Prior to his election to the Supreme Court Justice Nigro was in private practice for fifteen years and then served as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County from 1987 until 1995. Justice Nigro has served with distinction on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court since 1995. He is highly regarded within the legal community for his fairness, work ethic, judicial temperament and integrity. He is respectful and courteous to all parties who appear before the Court. Even parties who have been unsuccessful before him have acknowledged that he is well prepared, even-handed, courteous and thorough. He has exhibited a keen interest in administrative issues of the Court and in the regulation of Pennsylvania's attorneys. His opinions are well written, cogent and readily understood. Justice Nigro is a jurist who "calls it as he sees it." He has demonstrated all of the qualities requisite to a Justice of the Supreme Court and has fulfilled with enthusiasm and conscientiousness his responsibilities on the Court during his initial term. His independence, work ethic and commitment to enhancing the quality of justice in Pennsylvania all clearly warrant that Justice Nigro be retained as a member of Pennsylvania's highest Court.