Gov. Corbett's five judicial nominees for court vacancies clear Senate Judiciary Committee

By Jon Campisi | Jun 21, 2012

Five judicial nominees being pushed by Gov. Tom Corbett to fill various court vacancies

across the commonwealth, two on Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, cleared the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, according to local news reports.

The nominees, who won unanimous approval at the Judiciary Committee hearing, would still have to run in a 2013 election in order to serve out a full term since the gubernatorial appointment would only be temporary.

The nominees passed the Judiciary Committee despite objections from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, who has pled with the governor to leave the vacancies unfilled for the time being due to court budgetary constraints.

Corbett has said he believes the judicial seats need to be filled.

The five nominees who won initial approval are Kenneth Powell and Roger Gordon, who have been nominated to fill out vacancies on Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, (Gordon was previously a judge); Bill Ward, Corbett’s former chief of staff who has been nominated to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas; Paul E. Cozza, also nominated to the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court; and Michael Flannelly, who has been nominated to the York County Court of Common Pleas bench. Flannelly currently serves as York County’s solicitor.

The nominations require a two-thirds vote in the state Senate in order for the candidates to win confirmation to the bench.

Castille, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has gone on record saying filling the judicial vacancies at this time will require additional funding in order to cover judicial salaries and benefits.

Corbett, however, has responded by saying he feels the filling of the vacancies are necessary, and that court nominations are the prerogative of the governor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing comments from Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, stated that a full Senate vote on the nominations is expected before the end of the month.

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