PBA Judicial Evaluation Commission Releases Retention Ratings for Judicial Candidates

HARRISBURG (July 6, 2021) — 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 2 general election.

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

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Judge John T. Bender – Recommended for Retention

Judge Mary Jane Bowes – Recommended for Retention

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Judge Anne E. Covey – Not Recommended for Retention (for failure to participate)

Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer – 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.”

“Our commission’s goal is to provide information to assist voters in choosing candidates best suited to serve as fair, impartial and knowledgeable jurists on Pennsylvania’s highest courts,” said Kimberly Moses of Allegheny County, chair of the PBA JEC. “Our commission only recommends candidates it finds to have the legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament needed to provide satisfactory or outstanding levels of performance on the appellate courts’ benches.”

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 nonlawyer members from across the state.

Serving with Moses in the leadership of the PBA JEC is Vice Chair Charles Eppolito III of Philadelphia.

Additional lawyer members are Joseph D. Burke of Luzerne County, Jennifer S. Coatsworth of Philadelphia, Lara J. Endler of Luzerne County, Richard A. Estacio of Berks County, Jessica Lynn Harlow of Lycoming County, Stephanie F. Latimore of Dauphin County, Brian J. Lindsay of Crawford County, Julie K. Miller of Allegheny County, Denise C. Pekelnicky of Erie County and Joel C. Seelye of Blair County.

Nonlawyer members are Victoria A. Connor of York County, Mary A. Coploff of Clinton County, Gregory Cowhey of Philadelphia County, Tim Evans of Luzerne County, Harold E. Flack of Luzerne County and Robert N. Thomas of Erie County.


Judge John T. Bender

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate has served on the Superior Court for the past 20 years, after being elected to the bench in 2001. He is regarded by his colleagues as having a positive judicial temperament and broad legal knowledge and expertise in Pennsylvania civil procedure. The candidate’s judicial opinions are well written, thorough and well-reasoned. He currently serves as president judge emeritus for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and his decision to seek retention after 20years on the bench speaks to his dedication to the profession. For all of the reasons stated above, the commission recommends the candidate’s retention for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Judge Mary Jane Bowes

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate has served on the Pennsylvania Superior Court since 2001. The candidate is described by lawyers and judges as hard-working, thorough, prepared, brilliant, fair, and possessing integrity and outstanding legal ability. The candidate is highly regarded by her peers. Her legal opinions are clear and well written. She is well organized and strives to treat everyone with respect, patience and courtesy. The commission recommends the candidate for retention as a Superior Court judge.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.


Judge Anne E. Covey

Rating: Not Recommended for Retention (for failure to participate)

Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The candidate has served on the Commonwealth Court since 2002. She is energetic, articulate and well versed in all facets of her position on the Commonwealth Court. The candidate has drafted more than 2,500 opinions on a wide variety of legal issues. Her writings are consistently clear, well organized and scholarly. Her work ethic is excellent and she is attentive to deadlines. The candidate exhibits all the hallmarks of judicial integrity. For all of the above stated reasons, the commission recommends the candidate’s retention on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Read the candidate’s questionnaire.

Additional information about the PBA JEC can be found on the PBA website, www.pabar.org, and the association’s voter information website, www.pavotesmart.org.

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.