Reordering The Court: Pennsylvania Voters Weigh Judge Races

May 16, 2017

Pennsylvania primary voters are picking candidates for open seats on the state's appeals courts Tuesday, the only statewide contests on the spring primary ballot.

Eighteen people are running for Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, while the two major parties each have a single candidate for an opening on the state Supreme Court.

Five Democrats and five Republicans are competing for four nominations to serve on Superior Court, a busy mid-level appeals court that takes criminal, civil and family court appeals from counties.

The Democratic candidates are Philadelphia judges Carolyn Nichols and Maria McLaughlin, Beaver County Judge Deborah Anne Kunselman, former prosecutor Bill Kaye of Allegheny County and Superior Court Judge Geoff Moulton, who is trying to retain the position to which he was appointed last year.

The Republicans are Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, Philadelphia Judge Paula Patrick, Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano and Mary Murray, a district judge in Allegheny County.

For Commonwealth Court, which handles matters in which government agencies are a party, Republicans have two people seeking two openings. They are Delaware County Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon and Pittsburgh lawyer Paul Lalley. Cannon and Lalley will almost certainly be the GOP nominees in the fall.

Democrats have six people seeking the two nominations for Commonwealth Court — labor attorney Todd Eagen, Philadelphia Judge Ellen Ceisler, state Rep. Bryan Barbin of Cambria County, Pittsburgh lawyers Timothy Barry and Irene McLaughlin Clark, and Judge Joe Cosgrove, seeking to stay on Commonwealth Court after being appointed last year.

For the state Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, incumbent Justice Sallie Mundy, who was appointed last year, is the lone Republican candidate. She will run in November against Allegheny County Judge Dwayne Woodruff, a Democrat and former player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.