Inquirer Editorial: Judicial selections

BARRIE MAGUIRE
BARRIE MAGUIRE
Posted: May 02, 2011

Philadelphia primary voters will face a bewildering number of candidates vying for one of 11 seats on the city courts, while two low-profile contests for the Pennsylvania appellate courts play out at the polls statewide on May 17.

The Inquirer Editorial Board offers the following recommendations:

As the workhorse of the appellate bench, handling all criminal and civil appeals apart from those pertaining to government issues, Superior Court would benefit from someone who has spent time on the bench. In the contested Republican primary, a decade-long veteran on the city's Common Pleas Court, PAULA A. PATRICK, 43, fits the bill. She has extensive experience in Family Court and was cited by the state bar as "knowledgeable," "fair," and "committed to assuring equal justice." For the past year, she has ably presided in the city's gun court.

Running for Commonwealth Court - which hears governmnent- and election-related appeals - two Bucks County attorneys are the best choices to square off in the fall. Democrat KATHRYN BOOCKVAR, 42, brings legal-services agency experience and was a senior attorney for election law at a nonpartisan national civil rights organization. The state bar association cited her "legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament." Republican ANNE E. COVEY, 51, has been a member of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board since 2002 and offers experience as counsel to businesses on employment and labor relations issues. The bar noted her "good character, integrity and an excellent work ethic."

Among standouts seeking a Common Pleas Court seat, veteran personal-injury litigator DREW E. ALDINGER, 39, has been singled out for his pro bono work and rated highly by peers. As a Philadelphia prosecutor for 25 years, CHARLES A. EHRLICH, 57, has handled every type of criminal case and recently served as a key adviser on important city court reforms. Since mid-2009, Princeton graduate, former city jury commissioner, and prosecutor ROGER F. GORDON JR., 59, has served as an appointed city judge. As a solo practitioner and ordained minister, VINCENT L. JOHNSON, 54, believes judges should be required to undergo ethics training.

Also, criminal-defense lawyer JONATHAN Q. IRVINE, 44, sits as a hearing master in the city courts. BARBARA A. MCDERMOTT, 55, was a deputy attorney general and city prosecutor before embarking on criminal-defense work, which has included serving as a court-appointed counsel in death-penalty cases. CAROLYN H. NICHOLS, 55, has been a city lawyer, City Council aide, and director of the city's minority business council.

Also, a first career that included juvenile probation work in Chester should give veteran city prosecutor DIANA ANHALT, 42, special insights into the courts. One-time Bronx prosecutor SAYDE J. LADOV, 55, has broad experience, including a stint as 2009 chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. And MARIA McLAUGHLIN, 44, rose to become chief assistant during two decades in the District Attorney's Office.

For Municipal Court, MARVIN L. WILLIAMS, 59, who has handled cases as a master in Family Court, has the edge.


Voters can learn more about the appellate candidates at pavotesmart.com. City candidates' answers to five questions are posted at go.philly.com/saywhat, along with links to the Philadelphia Bar Association's candidate ratings.

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