The newest member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to be sworn in July 30th.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s nominee, Correale Stevens, was confirmed by the Senate on a 50-0 vote on June 30, returning the court to a four-to-three Republican majority and filling the vacant seat left by the resignation of Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
The 66-year-old judge from Luzerne County will serve through 2016 — the end of Melvin’s term.
Judge Kate Ford Elliott, who has worked with Stevens for more than 15 years on the Superior Court, said Stevens has a knack for getting people to work together.
“It’s very important to maintain a collegiality and an ability to have your colleagues talk to one another, work out difficult legal issues together and also various administrative matters,” Elliott said. “And I believe he’s done a very good job. I think he’ll bring all of that to the Supreme Court, which I think will be very important.”
Stevens received his undergraduate degree from Penn State and his J.D. at Dickinson School of Law.
Stevens was elected as a State Representative in 1980. From there, Stevens became the District Attorney of Luzerne County and eventually a judge on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas from 2000 until 2007, where Joseph Saporito Jr., president of the Luzerne County Bar Association, said Correale was “fair” and “impartial.”
“He was not one to fly off the handle,” Saporito said. “He was the type of a judge that would sit and listen to all of the arguments of council and he was very respectful of lawyers, litigants and court personnel as well.”
Stevens was elected to the Superior Court in 1997 and chosen as President Judge in 2010.
Although the Supreme Court returns to a four-to-three Republican majority, Elliott said politics has no impact on Stevens and his work.
“In his 15 years as an appellate judge for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, there has never been an instance where you could see an influence politics in any of his decision making,” Elliott said. “So, I think that’s a compliment to him, and I think he’ll bring that same sense of fairness to the Supreme Court.”
Elliott is expected to be named acting President Judge in place of Stevens.
Stevens is an advocate for court transparency. As President Judge, Stevens worked to make court opinions available for public review online.
Voters will have the opportunity to choose Justice Melvin’s permanent Supreme Court replacement in November 2015.
Justice Joan Orie Melvin was sentenced in May to three years of house arrest for using her staff and employees to help fund election campaigns in 2003 and 2009. Melvin is maintaining her innocence and is seeking an appeal.