PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases Retention Ratings for Judicial Candidates

HARRISBURG (Sept. 3, 2019) — The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) today released its ratings of two Superior Court of Pennsylvania judges and two Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania judges who are standing for retention in the November 5 general election.

The PBA JEC’s ratings for the retention candidates are as follows:

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

  • Judge P. Kevin Brobson – Recommended for Retention
  • Judge Patricia A. McCullough – Recommended for Retention

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

  • Judge Anne E. Lazarus – Recommended for Retention
  • Judge Judith F. Olson – Recommended for Retention

Because retention elections require only a “yes” or “no” vote of the public, the commission rates retention candidates either as “recommended for retention” or “not recommended for retention.”

The commission 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 the results of their investigations.

As the second phase, the commission members reviewed the questionnaires and written opinions, as well as the investigative panel reports, and interviewed the panel chairs before rendering their own evaluation and recommendation.

The commission includes lawyer and non-lawyer members from across the state.

Serving as the commission’s leaders are Berks County lawyer Heidi B. Masano as chair, Berks County lawyer Richard A. Estacio as co-vice chair, Allegheny County lawyer Kimberly D. Moses as co-vice chair and Montgomery County lawyer Robert F. Morris as immediate past chair.

Additional Lawyer members include Jennifer S. Coatsworth of Philadelphia County, Stephanie F. Latimore of Dauphin County, Lara J. Endler of Luzerne County, Brian J. Lindsay of Crawford County, Rhoda Shear Neft of Allegheny County, Denise C. Pekelnicky of Erie County, Howard A. Rothenberg of Lackawanna County, Joel C. Seelye of Blair County and Su Ming Yeh of Philadelphia County.

Non-lawyer members are Victoria A. Connor of York County, Mary A. Coploff of Clinton County, Gregory Cowhey of Philadelphia County, Keith W. Eckel of Lackawanna County, Melody A. Filicky of Fayette County and Edith M. Marino of Lycoming County.

The PBA JEC’s descriptions of its findings for each retention candidate are below. The candidates’ questionnaires can be found in the Media Center of the PBA website at www.pabar.org and the PBA-sponsored voter education website, PAVoteSmart, at www.pavotesmart.com.

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Judge P. Kevin Brobson
Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate has served on the Commonwealth Court since 2010. The candidate is recognized by members of the bar and bench as an excellent jurist who is even tempered, fair and knowledgeable. The candidate’s judicial opinions are well written, thorough and precise. He is currently the board chair of the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania. He exhibits his dedication to the profession through community service, including acting as the jurist-in-residence at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and providing pro bono legal service. The commission recommends the candidate’s retention because of his consistent judicial excellence, even-keeled temperament, and commitment to the bar, bench and community at large. 

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Patricia A. McCullough
Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate previously served on the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and has served on the Commonwealth Court since 2010. Those who were interviewed concerning the candidate describe her as conscientious, hardworking, fair minded, open to new concepts and dedicated. The attorneys who come before her and her fellow judges consider her to be professional, well prepared and having a firm grasp of the facts and the law. The candidate was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee, which she currently chairs. She is active in the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County bar associations and is a course planner for continuing legal education courses. The candidate is also active in the community. She served on the United Way Strategic Planning Committee, the Pennsylvania Catholic Committee on Social Concerns and Immigrants Against Domestic Violence Task Force. The candidate’s character and integrity make her well suited for her position on Commonwealth Court. For all the reasons stated above, the commission believes the candidate should continue service on the Commonwealth Court and accordingly recommends her retention.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Judge Anne E. Lazarus
Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate has served as a Superior Court judge for the past 10 years. Her impressive career also includes service on the trial court for a combined total of nearly 29 years on the bench. She has earned the reputation as an extremely capable and hardworking jurist. Her judicial temperament has been described as “perfect,” and her opinions are thoroughly researched and well written. The candidate was active in creating the First Judicial District’s Pro Bono Committee, out of which the mortgage foreclosure committee and the custody conciliation committees were created. In addition to her work on the Superior Court, the candidate teaches courses to both law students and lawyers throughout the commonwealth. She has earned the respect of both litigants and lawyers during her time on the bench, and the commission recommends her retention for the Superior Court.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Judith F. Olson
Rating: Recommended for Retention

Having served on Superior Court for the last 10 years, the candidate is regarded as a hardworking and extremely capable jurist. She has authored well-written opinions that are easily followed and understood, and which demonstrate appreciation of the effects legal decisions have on the lives of the parties involved. She is described as talented, bright, prepared and fair in her application of existing law to the cases before the court. The candidate has actively participated in community and charitable boards and is loyal to the missions and purposes of the institutions. She also speaks at bar association programs, giving practical advice to those in attendance. The candidate has earned high praise and respect for her service on the Superior Court and the commission recommends her retention.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access of legal services; and serve the lawyer members of the state's largest organized bar association.


 

 

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