The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has named an intermediate appellate
court judge to a four-year term on the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline.
The high court announced in a per curiam order Sept. 18 that it has appointed Superior Court Judge Jack Panella as the newest member of the CJD, which is tasked with dolling out professional discipline to judges in the commonwealth.
The CJD, which was created in the early 1990s through an amendment to the state constitution, is comprised of eight members, four of whom are appointed by the Supreme Court, and the other half of who are appointed by the governor.
The so-called two-tier system of judicial discipline in the commonwealth, which began in 1993, replaced the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board with the Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates and brings charges of judicial misconduct, and the Court of Judicial Discipline, which adjudicates such matters.
The makeup of the disciplinary bench includes trial court judges, appellate judges, magisterial district judges and non-lawyers.
Panella, who hails from northeastern Pennsylvania, was previously a Northampton County Common Pleas Court judge for more than a decade before his elevation to the Superior Court in November 2003, according to a professional biography.
This is not Panella’s first time overseeing disciplinary proceedings against state judges; his bio shows that he was previously appointed to a seat on the Court of Judicial Discipline in the summer of 1997.
The jurist was elected president judge of the CJD three years later, and in 2005 he was appointed by the Supreme Court to the state’s Judicial Conduct Board.
Panella, whose chambers are located in the city of Bethlehem in Northampton County, specialized in complex mass tort litigation back during his 12 years at the Northampton County Courthouse.
He has also worked as a private practice attorney and served as solicitor for Northampton County.
In 2004, Panella’s bio shows, he was appointed by the Supreme Court to serve on the Commission for Justice Initiatives in Pennsylvania.
During his time as a trial court judge, Panella chaired the Commonwealth Partners Program for the Conference of State Trial Judges, according to his biography.
The jurist has also served on the conference’s Judicial Ethics Committee.