RATINGS OF RETENTION CANDIDATES
Justice Debra McCloskey Todd
Rating: Recommended for Retention
The candidate has served eight years on the Superior Court and ten years on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. She is a distinguished member of the judiciary and is described as enthusiastic, hard-working, attentive and intelligent. The candidate’s opinions are thorough, concise, scholarly and easily understood, and she carries out her administrative duties with seriousness of purpose. She headed the Elder Task Force which later became Elder Justice in the Courts. The candidate is a member of the Elder Justice Advisory Council serving as its judicial liaison. She is also the court’s liaison to the Veteran’s Courts and the Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness. The candidate’s integrity, legal ability, judicial temperament and commitment to the legal profession serve her well on the bench. The commission recommends her retention.
Chief Justice Thomas Saylor
Rating: Recommended for Retention
The candidate has served on the Supreme Court since 1998; he has been Chief Justice since 2015. The candidate is known by attorneys and his colleagues for adhering to the principle that all persons accused of a crime have constitutional rights that should not be diminished. His opinions, which are described as well written, thoughtful and intellectual, provide the reader with a logical path to the conclusion reached. The candidate possesses a unique legal aptitude, leadership abilities and a high degree of integrity that is well suited for the Supreme Court. His judicial temperament is above reproach. For these reasons, the commission believes the candidate should continue his distinguished service to the court and to the public and, therefore, recommends his retention.
RATINGS OF CANDIDATES FOR ONE VACANCY
Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy
Rating: Highly Recommended
The candidate is presently serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, having been appointed in June 2016 to fill a vacancy. After receiving her law degree, she spent one year as a law clerk for a Tioga County Court of Common Pleas judge. For the 10 years following her clerkship, she worked as an associate in firms doing insurance defense litigation, including the defense of professional malpractice claims. She then spent 10 years advocating in the courts for plaintiffs who were catastrophically injured by railroad accidents, defective products and medical malpractice. During the latter part of that time, she also worked as a volunteer public defender in Tioga County. In 2010, she was elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court where she served with distinction until 2016. During her time as a trial lawyer and as a Superior Court judge, the candidate has expressed respect for the court, attorneys and non-lawyers. Her community service includes work for the PTO and service as a board member of a local charitable foundation. She has been a highly regarded member of both the Superior and Supreme courts. By all accounts, she is respected and liked by other members of both courts. She is well prepared and respectful of attorneys at oral argument and displays a clear understanding of the issues and the rights of the litigants whose cases come before her. Her opinions are clearly written and well reasoned. Because of the depth and diversity of her legal background, the devotion and hard work she has shown at all her endeavors, and her collegiality on the bench, the commission gives her its highest recommendation for her Supreme Court candidacy.
Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff
Since 2005, the candidate has served as a judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas where he presides over family and juvenile matters. Upon completion of law school, he was an associate in a large Pittsburgh firm handling product liability and insurance defense. He quickly rose to a level of competence that allowed him to be lead counsel in major cases. He also worked as a certified National Football League player representative. In 1997, he founded his own law firm. He continued to represent professional athletes and handled real estate tax appeals, personal injury and debt collection cases. Most attorneys who appear before him in court describe him as being hard working, well prepared, polite, attentive, and respectful to litigants. The candidate has a strong work ethic and displays a deep respect for his role as a trial judge. He eagerly learned the law in the Family Division, despite the fact that he had no prior experience in that area of the law. He was appointed a member to the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, which was created by the Legislature to investigate the circumstances that lead to corruption in the juvenile court in Luzerne County. With few exceptions, his opinions have been described as clear and concise on appellate review and by attorneys. Throughout his career, he has actively participated in charitable organizations and has received multiple awards acknowledging his outstanding work on behalf of national and local community organizations. Because of his strong work ethic and unquestioned integrity, the commission recommends his candidacy for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.