Saturday, January 26, 2013

Legislators: 'Stop electing judges in Pennsylvania'

Pennsylvania Legislators want to eliminate the practice of electing judges to the state’s appellate courts because the system can lead to corruption and conflicts of interest stemming from the millions of dollars in campaign contributions, reported the PA Independent.

Instead, a newly created commission would identify a short list of judicial candidates to fill vacancies in the state Supreme Court, Superior Court and Commonwealth Court. The governor would chose from that list.

The proposed commission would include 15 members. Four would be appointed by the governor, four would be appointed by the General Assembly and the remaining seven would be members of the public, but the bill is silent on how they would be selected.

Lower court judges in municipal courts and the state Court of Common Pleas would continue to be elected. All judges would continue to face retention votes after 10 years on the bench.

Pennsylvania is one of only eight states with judicial elections, according to the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, a judicial research center housed at the University of Denver.

This comes as Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin stands trial for corruption in Allegheny County.  He sister former state Senator Jane Orie was convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison.

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