Women Win Big In Races For Judgeships In Phila. Eight Of 11 Common Pleas Seats Went To Women, As Did A Seat Each On The Municipal And Traffic Courts.

Posted: November 08, 1995

It was the "Year of the Woman" in Philadelphia judicial elections yesterday.

Women won eight of 11 Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judgeships and one seat each on Municipal and Traffic Courts.

In addition, voters returned eight sitting Common Pleas judges for new 10- year terms and six Municipal Court judges for additional six-year terms. Three Traffic Court judges also won in these retention elections.

Overall, women dominated the city judicial elections - and, for the first time, a woman, Sandra Schultz Newman, was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In January, when the new judges are sworn in, 27 of the city's 89 Common Pleas judges will be women - nearly one-third. Five of the 24 Municipal Court judges, and three of six Traffic Court judges will be women.

"It's the first time in the history of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia we've had this balance of women and African Americans," said Renee Hughes, judge-elect of the Common Pleas Court. "Women will bring to the bench a different view - on the civil side in terms of mediating disputes, and on the criminal side in alternatives to sentencing, where that is allowed."

Five of the new Common Pleas judges are African American; six are white.

The increase in women judges mirrors the upward trend in law school enrollments since the 1970s. Almost half the nation's law students today are women. As more women have entered the legal profession, they have progressed to senior positions.

"As women have paved the way - the pioneers, as I respectfully call them - that gives other women the strength and courage to try," said Amanda

Cooperman, one of the city's new Common Pleas judges.

The losers yesterday were the candidates for judgeships who had only Republican support - regardless of their sex. Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-2 in Philadelphia. The last time judicial candidates won with only the Republican nomination was 1969, when Arlen Specter, then district attorney, was reelected as a Republican, and swept a GOP judicial slate in with him.

Among the winners were five candidates cross-endorsed by the Democratic and Republican Parties: Willis W. Berry Jr., Matthew D. Carrafiello, Idee C. Fox, Marlene F. Lachman and John M. Younge.

Democrats who won seats on the Common Pleas bench were: Gwendolyn N. Bright, Amanda Cooperman, Lynn Bennett Hamlin, Renee Hughes, Patricia McInerney and Lillian Ransom.

Six others on the Republican ballot lost bids for Common Pleas judgeships: Alexis L. Barbieri, E. Marc Costanzo, Richard B. Moore, James J. O'Connell, John O'Grady Jr. and Frank J. Panetta.

In the Municipal Court race, Democrat Teresa Carr Deni defeated Republican Harry Schwartz for one seat. In the Traffic Court race, Democrat Bridget A. Murray beat Republican Michael G. Gallagher.

The trend toward more women on the bench is relatively recent. In the 1991 election, 11 of 16 Common Pleas judgeships went to men - and five to women. In the 1993 judicial election, four men and two women were elected to the Common Pleas bench.

The traditional male dominance of the judiciary was reflected in retention elections yesterday for incumbent judges seeking new terms: They were mostly men.

In retention elections, incumbents are placed on the ballot, and voters are given the right to vote "yes" or "no" on whether they should remain on the bench.

Common Pleas judges who won retention to another 10-year term were: Edward J. Bradley, Alfred J. DiBona Jr., Murray C. Goldman, Bernard J. Goodheart, Richard B. Klein, Stephen E. Levin, Abram Frank Reynolds and Esther R. Sylvester.

Municipal Court judges who won retention to new six-year terms were: Matthew F. Coppolino, Georganne V. Daher, Eric L. Lilian, Ronald B. Merriweather, Louis J. Presenza and Louis G.F. Retacco.

In addition, Traffic Court Judges Frank J. Little, Thomasine Tynes and George Twardy won their retention elections.

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