By Zack Needles
Of the Legal Staff
The Pennsylvania Bar Association judicial evaluation commission has reissued its candidate ratings for the upcoming judicial elections on November 5.
The JEC rated the two candidates for retention on the state Supreme Court – Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille and Justice Max Baer – as well as the two candidates for retention on the Superior Court – Judges Susan Peikes Gantman and Jack A. Panella – as “recommended for retention.”
The JEC also gave both candidates vying for the lone vacancy on the Superior Court – Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge John T. McVay Jr. and Harrisburg attorney Victor P. Stabile – a “recommended” rating.
The JEC said in a press release that Castille has seen the high court through a tumultuous period that has included the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal, the Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket-fixing scandal and the political corruption conviction and resignation of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
“He is credited for his efforts in reorganizing the court system in Philadelphia, for strengthening and improving the judicial discipline system, and for encouraging lawyers to render public interest and legal services work by initiating a law school loan repayment assistance program for their benefit,” the JEC said in the release. “He is recognized for his friendly and forthcoming demeanor, excellent judicial temperament, strong work ethic and substantial output of articulate and well-reasoned opinions.”
Baer, meanwhile, “has distinguished himself by his legal and administrative abilities, integrity and judicial temperament,” according to the JEC.
“He is a collegial member of the court and a consensus builder,” the JEC said. “He writes clear, intelligent and well-reasoned opinions that reflect respect of established law, the precedents set forth by prior Supreme Court decisions and the decision-making responsibility imposed upon that court.”
For the Superior Court, Gantman was credited by the JEC for being “scholarly and energetic,” as well as “possessing exemplary knowledge of legal principles and procedures.”
“She demonstrates sound judgment and possesses the requisite judicial temperament,” the JEC said. “Her opinions are clear, concise and thorough.”
The JEC recognized Panella for his “excellent judicial temperament and a reputation for being a thoughtful and respected jurist” and called his opinions “well reasoned, clear and concise.”
As for the candidates seeking to join the bench, the JEC said McVay “is regarded as having outstanding legal ability in his current position.”
“He is recognized for his diligence, excellent temperament and willingness to employ unique solutions in matters that come before him,” the JEC said.
The JEC credited Stabile, the managing partner of Dilworth Paxson’s Harrisburg office, for his “strong writing skills, administrative ability and experience in handling cases in the appellate courts.”
“He is held in high regard by his peers, who have noted his intellect, strong work ethic and integrity,” the JEC said.
Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.