May 05, 2009
Philadelphia Bar Association Issues Final Judicial Candidate RecommendationsTo prepare voters for the May 19 primary election, the Philadelphia Bar
Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention has been evaluating the candidates for judge of Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court. Here are the results from the Commission’s two final meetings, held April 24 and May 4: The Commission issued two more ratings for candidates for Municipal Court: Recommended
Thomas N. Nocella Not Recommended
Ted J. Vigilante In addition, Jonathan Q. Irvine withdrew his candidacy for Municipal Court, although he remains a recommended candidate for judge of the Court of Common Pleas. The Commission issued two more ratings for candidates for the Court of Common Pleas: Recommended
Thomas Francis Shields, Jr. Not Recommended
In addition, Thomas Martin has been removed from the list of Recommended Candidates for Court of Common Pleas, as he has withdrawn from the ballot. This year, voters will elect seven candidates to the Court of Common Pleas and four to Municipal Court. A final list of judicial candidates rated by the Commission can be found at www.electqualifiedjudges.com. “The Bar Association’s mission is to ensure a fair and independent judiciary, and we take the work of this Commission very seriously,” says Chancellor Sayde Ladov. “Judges have enormous power. Our recommendations help Philadelphia’s citizens choose qualified judges.” For 33 years, the Philadelphia Bar Association has issued its recommendations on judicial candidates. The evaluation process is a rigorous one. Candidates must complete a lengthy questionnaire and provide three writing samples. Once the Bar receives these materials, the Investigative Division takes over. Made up of 120 members, one‐third of whom are not lawyers, and covering a broad spectrum of the legal profession and the public sector, the Investigative Division interviews each candidate, performs a background check and interviews all professional associates of the candidate. The Investigative Division then presents a report to the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, a group including the President Judges of Common Pleas Court and Municipal Court, the Chief Public Defender, the City Solicitor, the Chancellor, Chancellor‐Elect and Vice Chancellor of the Bar Association and representatives of diverse interests within the community. After the report is reviewed, each candidate comes before the Commission to make a statement regarding his/her qualifications and for a question‐and-answer session. Once this process is complete, each Commission member casts a secret ballot on whether the candidate will be designated “recommended” or “not recommended.” Those found "recommended" satisfy a cumulative review of criteria including qualifications such as legal ability and training, trial experience, character, integrity, judicial temperament and mental and physical ability and community involvement. A “not recommended” candidate has the opportunity to appeal the decision by appearing again before the Commission. Often, candidates who lose this appeal decide to withdraw their candidacy. “The release of these recommendations helps voters realize how dramatically those serving
in our city’s courtrooms affect their lives,” says William P. Fedullo, Chair of the Commission.
“It is imperative that Philadelphians go to the polls on May 19.” The Commission’s final list (May 4) of evaluated candidates includes:
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Gregory A. Coleman
Robert P. Coleman
Anne Marie B. Coyle
Angelo J. Foglietta
Jonathan Q. Irvine
Thomas Francis Shields, Jr.
Donna M. Woelpper Not Recommended:
John J. Capaldi
W. Fred Harrison
Elinore O’Neill Kolodner
Sharon Williams Losier
Philadelphia Municipal Court
Patrick F. Dugan
Joseph T. Murphy, Jr.
Thomas M. Nocella
Kenneth J. Powell, Jr.
Dawn A. Segal
Joseph C. Waters, Jr. Not Recommended:
Ted J. Vigilante