Wolf announces interim Supreme Court picks

By Jim Boyle | Feb 5, 2015

HARRISBURG - Voters will receive their chance to pick from a loaded ballot of

Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidates in the coming months, but until then there are two vacant seats that need to be filled, following the mandatory retirement of Chief Justice Ronald Castille and the resignation of Seamus McCaffery.

Governor Tom Wolf nominated Ken Gormley, who is currently dean and professor at Duquesne University School of Law, and the Honorable Thomas Kistler, who presently serves as president judge of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.

“I am pleased today to announce two extremely qualified and distinguished individuals as my nominees to serve on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the highest court in the Commonwealth,” Wolf said in a statement. “A collaborative process involving leaders from the Senate led to the selection of two nominees who I believe will execute their duties with the highest standard of ethics and judicial temperament.”

Gormley is dean and professor at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, specializing in Constitutional subjects. He joined the faculty in 1994, after teaching at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and engaging in private practice.

"A successful and respected lawyer, teacher and scholar, Ken is a man of great intellect, character and integrity. He has also been an exceptional leader of our school of law," Duquesne President Charles Dougherty said in a written statement.

"Ken’s reputation for fairness and his balanced approach with complex issues have served him well throughout his career and will certainly prove to be valuable as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.”

Gormley earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, summa cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1980.

He served as President of the Allegheny County Bar Association, the first academic to hold that position in the organization's 137-year history. From 1998 to 2001, Gormley served as Mayor of Forest Hills.

Kistler was elected in November 1997 to the Court of Common Pleas. He currently serves as the President Judge of Centre County after serving for 14 years as a Common Pleas judge.

Twice a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Kistler received his bachelor's degree in 1979 and his law degree in 1982 from the Dickinson School of Law. Prior to his election, Kistler worked in private practice for 15 years, including service on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Criminal Procedural Rules Committee and an appointment in the 1980s as an Investigative Panel Chairperson for the Judicial Evaluation Commission.

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