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The 2011 PBA Judicial Evaluations

Information on the 2011 PA judicial candidates. For more Pennsylvania legal information, or for a free injury consult, contact Purchase, George and Murphey, P.C.: 814-833-7100.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Commission has issued ratings for the candidates for statewide judicial positions in the November 8, 2011 elections. The PBA’s recommendations are first identified in summary fashion below. Read on for detailed analysis of each candidate.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Recommended for Retention: Justice J. Michael Eakin

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Highly Recommended: Judge David N. Wecht

Recommended: Victor P. Stabile

Recommended for Retention: Judge John T. Bender and Judge Mary Jane Bowes

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Recommended: Kathryn Boockvar and Anne E. Covey

Recommended for Retention: Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer; Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt; and Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr.

The Pennsylvania injury lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. encourage everyone to exercise their right and responsibility to vote on Tuesday, November 8.

Detailed Statements

Judge David N. Wecht

Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has served with distinction over the past eight years as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. He recently served as the administrative judge of the Family Division, where he implemented innovative programs, including “One Family, One Judge” to provide consistency in the adjudication of legal issues that are addressed by that division. As a Family Court judge, the Candidate had experience in both the domestic relations and juvenile justice functions. While in the Family Division, he served on a regular basis in the Civil Division of the court, where he now sits. His opinions evidence thoughtful scholarly research and demonstrate his keen intellect. He is respectful of litigants in his court, and his opinions demonstrate his understanding of both sides of the matters before him. His love of the law is apparent not only by his service on the bench, but also by his teaching at the law school and college levels and by the publication of many articles. The Candidate has the breadth of experience and knowledge required to serve with distinction on the Superior Court and is highly recommended.

Victor P. Stabile

Rating: Recommended

Throughout his career as a civil litigator, the Candidate has been held in high regard by his peers, who commend his integrity, strong work ethic, and civility. He served as a clerk for a Commonwealth Court judge before working as a litigator in the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. More recently, he has distinguished himself as the managing partner of his firm’s Harrisburg office, where he handles complex civil litigation matters. His writing skills are strong and his experience handling cases before the appellate courts is solid. He has an exemplary record of pro bono service, and he has also served his community as a member of his township’s Board of Supervisors. Based on his strong intellect, passion for the law, and even temperament, the commission recommends him for a position on the Superior Court.

Kathryn Boockvar

Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has a varied background that includes working in a private law practice and working as a legal services and public interest lawyer, most recently dealing with election law matters. She is regarded as bright, hard working, and a zealous advocate for her clients. She communicates well. Her record of community service and bar association and professional organization activities is adequate but not extensive. She is experienced in handling cases that regularly come before the Commonwealth Court, but her appellate experience, including her experience before the Commonwealth Court, is limited. The commission finds that the Candidate possesses the legal ability, experience, integrity, and temperament to perform satisfactorily as a judge of the Commonwealth Court and recommends her as a candidate for a seat on that court.

Anne E. Covey

Rating: Recommended

The Candidate has been a member of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board since 2002. Her legal experience is primarily representing businesses in the area of employment and labor relations. She has counseled, taught, and consulted widely in matters involving this subject area. The Candidate is the author of numerous law review articles, law journal articles, and a book: The Workplace Law Advisor. She demonstrates intelligence, writing ability, administrative experience, and judicial temperament. The commission concludes that the Candidate possesses good character, integrity, and an excellent work ethic and that she would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge on the Commonwealth Court.

Justice J. Michael Eakin

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served on the Supreme Court since January 2002. His opinions are thorough, thoughtful, cogent, and concise. He has authored several opinions in poetic verse, which has drawn praise in some legal circles and criticism in others. He is an active participant at oral argument, frequently questioning counsel to assist him and the other members of the court in understanding the nuances of particular issues. The Candidate is known for his quick wit and friendly nature. Although demonstrating a collegial attitude to the lawyers who appear before him and to his peers on the Supreme Court, he has not been reluctant to author dissenting opinions when he felt it was necessary and important to do so. Regarded as fair, impartial, independent, and unlikely to be swayed by public opinion or media criticism, the Candidate has earned the respect of lawyers and judges in the Commonwealth. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

Judge John T. Bender

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served on the Superior Court since January 2002. He has earned a reputation as a fair minded and capable jurist. He regularly delivers concise, consistent, and clear opinions. His opinions are well reasoned and easily readable, regardless of the complexity of the subject matter. He has an excellent judicial temperament and is known for being well prepared, polite, and attentive during arguments in cases before him. He has demonstrated a thorough grasp of both substantive legal issues and procedural issues. He has actively served on the appellate court Rules Committee while maintaining a commitment to his day-to-day administrative and substantive duties as a judge. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

Judge Mary Jane Bowes

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served as a Superior Court judge since January 2002. She has earned the respect of lawyers and her peers for her strong work ethic, her exceptional intellect, her judicial temperament, and her dedication to improving the quality of justice through legal education and community involvement. The Candidate is a frequent participant in continuing legal education panels, serves on the Pennsylvania Bar Association Appellate Advocacy Committee, and is involved with the “Color of Justice” program in which female judges meet with female minority high school students. The Candidate’s written opinions are logically organized and written with clarity and sound legal reasoning. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

Judge Reneé Cohn Jubelirer

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served as a Commonwealth Court judge since January 2002. The Candidate has a reputation for being bright, engaged, and a hard worker. The Candidate possesses good judicial temperament and is courteous, compassionate, and impartial. She has a well-defined sense of justice and works hard to improve the quality of justice through her contribution to continuing legal education for lawyers and judges. The Candidate’s legal opinions are well written and reflect a high degree of ability to interpret and apply legal principles and provide clear direction for advocates and agencies. The Candidate’s service on the Commonwealth Court demonstrates her ability to fulfill the responsibilities of an appellate court judge. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served as a Commonwealth Court judge since January 2002. She has impressed and therefore has earned the admiration and respect of the lawyers who practice in her court. She has been collegial in her dealings with other judges. The Candidate is extremely bright and articulate. Her opinions are clear and concise and demonstrate excellent critical analysis skills and outstanding legal ability. The Candidate’s integrity and strength of character are evident in her decision making. She continues to provide continuing legal education to the entire legal community. Her judicial temperament is above reproach. The Candidate clearly demonstrates all of the qualities necessary to serve as an appellate judge. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

Robert E. Simpson, Jr.

Rating: Recommended for Retention

The Candidate has served as a Commonwealth Court judge since January 2002. The Candidate’s opinions contain excellent writing and reflect sound analytical abilities. He shows superior knowledge of matters that are brought to the Commonwealth Court, and he has earned the respect of lawyers and other members of the bench throughout his legal career. He is regarded as a jurist of integrity and excellent character. The Candidate clearly demonstrates all of the qualities necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of an appellate judge. The commission recommends the Candidate’s retention.

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