Phila. Bar Association releases ratings of judicial candidates

By Jon Campisi | Apr 8, 2013

The Philadelphia Bar Association recently released its ratings of judicial

candidates vying for seats on the Court of Common Pleas and Philadelphia Municipal Court during the upcoming May 21 primary.

The group formulated its list of “recommended” and “not recommended” candidates based on an investigation conducted by the association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention.

Bar Association Chancellor Kathleen D. Wilkinson, however, stressed that the ratings are preliminary and incomplete and that additional names and ratings will be unveiled as investigations into the remaining judicial candidates are complete.

“We wanted to get these names and ratings out as soon as possible and invite people to learn about these candidate ratings,” Wilkinson said in a statement released by the Bar Association.

The association wants primary election voters to know “not just who to vote for but why the judicial elections are so important and why we invest so much time and energy in reviewing and rating these candidates,” the chancellor continued. “This is the one place for voters to find a thorough, non-partisan, objective rating of the candidates.”

The attorneys recommended by the association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention for seats on the Common Pleas bench are Giovanni Campbell, James C. Crumlish, Daine A. Grey, Jr., Chris Mallios, Daniel D. McCaffery, Kenneth J. Powell, Jr., Stephanie M. Sawyer, Katie Scrivner and Fran Shields.

Those rated “not recommended” for Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court were Frank Bennett, Deborah D. Cianfrani, Conor Corcoran, Rania Major, Jon Marshall, Sierra Thomas Street and Dawn M. Tancredi.

Candidates recommended for a seat on the Philadelphia Municipal Court are Martin Coleman, Daine A. Grey, Jr., Chris Mallios and Fran Shields, and those who were not recommended for the bench were Frank Bennett, Shoshana Bricklin and Conor Corcoran.

All of the candidates are working attorneys because the commonwealth’s constitution requires those vying for Common Pleas and Municipal Court judgeships to be licensed lawyers.

The Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, however, is an independent and nonpartisan panel that includes both lawyers and non-lawyers, and its makeup includes the likes of community leaders, the city’s chief public defender, the city solicitor, sitting Philadelphia judges and representatives of minority legal groups.

The commission’s chair, Teresa F. Sachs, said in a statement that it would complete more than 35 evaluations of candidates for the nine open seats on the Common Pleas Court and Municipal Court.

“That is an enormous undertaking involving many hundreds of interviews by the investigative division and careful review, consideration and deliberation by the Commission,” Sachs stated.

The May 21 primary will only be open to voters registered as either Republican or Democrat.

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