Common Pleas Court judicial candidates advance during primary

By Jon Campisi | May 19, 2011

Ten out of 40-plus Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judicial nominees advanced during Tuesday’s primary election, with seven out of the 10 constituting as endorsed candidates by the city’s Democratic Committee.

There are currently 10 open seats on the Court of Common Pleas, which handles civil and criminal matters. The vacancies on the bench are due to retirements and an end to the 10-year term for some judges.

Common Pleas judges have a mandatory retirement age of 70.

The May 17 primary election was only open to registered Democrats and Republicans, since Pennsylvania is a “closed” primary state.

Despite the relatively low voter turnout, city residents chose a slate of judicial nominees to move forward to November’s general election.

According to unofficial election returns reported on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website, the top vote-getter was Democratic candidate Sean Kennedy. With 99.25 percent of precincts reporting, Kennedy was shown to have 57,728 votes, or 7.7 percent of the overall vote.

The second highest vote-getter was Democrat was candidate Angelo J. Foglietta, who received 48,166 votes, or 6.4 percent overall.

Contrast those figures with the Republican slate of candidates, the top winner of which received 10,845 votes. That number belonged to candidate Anne Marie Coyle.

Democrats have a 6-1 voter registration edge over Republicans in Philadelphia.

Some aspiring judges ran on simultaneous Democratic and Republican tickets, since judicial candidates at the Common Pleas Court level can cross-file, said Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. Judicial candidates cannot cross-file at the appellate level, she said.

The ten judicial candidates who got the highest number of votes in the May 17 primary are as follows:

Sean Kennedy, Angelo Foglietta, Diana Anhalt, Maria McLaughlin, Jonathan Irvine, Vincent Johnson, Barbara McDermott, Charles Ehrlich, Edward Wright and Carolyn Nichols.

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