By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
Amid the flurry of activity over the state budget last weekend, the state Senate confirmed seven new judges.
The confirmations were the subject of some controversy because Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille had said he had requested a moratorium on filling judicial vacancies as a means of controlling the court’s budget, while Governor Tom Corbett said he had agreed to the moratorium for one year only.
The court’s budget was increased in order to pay for the judgeships.
The general-fund provision for the judiciary was increased by $8.2 million, but the judiciary had said that it probably needed closer to $10 million. While an overall increase of $9.3 million was approved, $1.1 million of that amount is for an Allegheny County court consolidation grant.
The new judges include: Paul E. Cozza and William F. Ward for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Roger F. Gordon and Kenneth J. Powell Jr. for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, J. Scott O’Keefe and T. Francis Shields for Philadelphia Municipal Court, and Michael W. Flannelly for the York County Court of Common Pleas.
Until a recent reshuffle in the Corbett administration, Ward was Corbett’s chief of staff.
The judiciary has argued over the last few budget cycles that it is not receiving enough general-fund dollars to pay for judgeships and other costs and that it has been using technology-dedicated funds to cover the shortfall.