Pa. Chief Justice praises Commonwealth Court for handling of election cases

By Jon Campisi | Jun 4, 2012

The leader of Pennsylvania’s highest judiciary had kind words for the state’s lower tier appellate court late last week, praising the appeals judges for handling an “unprecedented” number of election cases during this past primary election season.

In a statement released through the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts May 31, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille praised Commonwealth Court for handling the election cases, which were more than double those filed in 2008, the last presidential election year.

“The commitment of the judges and their staffs, under the leadership of President Judge Dan Pellegrini, in hearing and disposing of these cases in a very compact time frame was impressive,” Castille said in his statement. “The hearings, in which emotions often ran high, were held in seven different courtrooms across the commonwealth and often ran well into the night so that one hearing would conclude before the next one began.”

Castille said that the Commonwealth Court staff handled the “enormous” increase in filings, coordinated with the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Election Bureau to receive and safeguard the nominating petitions, issued judges’ pre-hearing orders and transmitted the files to various courtrooms across the commonwealth where the cases were being heard.

“The public expects, and rightly so, that the courts will always be open to administer justice in a timely manner,” Castille’s statement read. “Our jurists and staff strive to make proceedings go smoothly and appear routine, even when the circumstances make that difficult. In this instance, the sheer volume of cases and the time constraints were very challenging, and the court did an excellent job hearing and disposing of the cases expeditiously.”

Commonwealth Court, which is one of Pennsylvania’s two intermediate appellate courts, typically handles legal matters involving state and municipal government and regulatory agencies.

Litigation typically involves subjects such as banking, insurance and utility regulation and laws affecting taxation, land use, elections, labor practices and workers compensation.

Commonwealth Court is comprised of nine judges who are elected to 10-year terms.

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