2017 Commonwealth Court

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.