Jon Campisi Jun. 17, 2013, 7:16am


Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Correale

F. Stevens to fill the vacancy left on the state Supreme Court due to the resignation of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin, the governor’s office announced late last week.

Stevens, a Luzerne County resident, has been tapped to take over for Orie Melvin, who was forced from the bench after she was convicted of corruption stemming from a scheme to use her judicial staff to do campaign work.

According to a biography provided by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Stevens, a graduate of Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law, was first elected to the Superior Court in 1997, and began his term as president judge in 2011.

Stevens previously served on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, as the district attorney of Luzerne County, and as an elected member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He has also served as the solicitor for the City of Hazelton, Pa. and the Hazelton Authority.

His biography says that during his time as Superior Court President Judge, Stevens has held court sessions in various Pennsylvania communities and on law school and high school campuses in a move to make the citizenry more aware of the workings of the judicial system.

He was also responsible for establishing a public information link on the Superior Court’s website.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court is the top-tier appellate body in the state that sits just beneath the Supreme Court.

In a statement, Gov. Corbett called Stevens and another three individuals he recently nominated to various governmental posts as candidates who reflect the “qualities and qualifications that transcend political labels and uniquely suit each one for the positions of public trust for which they have been selected.

Corbett was also making nominations to the Liquor Control Board, the Turnpike Commission and the Public Utility Commission.

As for Stevens, who also teaches criminal justice and government courses at Penn State’s Hazleton campus, and conducts continuing legal education for state and local bar associations, the judge said he was pleased to be nominated to the high court.

“I thank Governor Tom Corbett for nominating me to the Supreme Court,” Stevens said in a statement. “It would become an exciting opportunity for me to continue my judicial career in that capacity, if confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate.”

Pending confirmation, Stevens said he would continue to focus on his Superior Court duties, as well as continue to hold his community court sessions and legal seminars.

Stevens singled out his work to make court decisions publicly available online as a top priority, and cited the “outstanding, hard-working colleagues” on the Superior Court as helping to make his own duties and responsibilities that much easier.

“Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to serve on the Superior Court with four of the six current Supreme Court Justices and consider all six personal friends, and if confirmed, the transition between courts should go well,” he said in his statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Stevens would temporarily serve on the high court until January 2016; the election to fill the vacancy permanently would take place in November 2015.

All Pennsylvania judges are elected. Appellate court jurists serve out 10-year terms.

Former Justice Orie Melvin is serving out a three-year house arrest sentence for her February public corruption conviction.

An Allegheny County Common Pleas Court jury found her guilty of using her then-Superior Court staff to work on her campaigns for the Supreme Court in both 2003 and 2009.

She was convicted on charges including conspiracy, theft of services and misapplication of government funds.

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