Inquirer Editorial: Good candidates among judicial choices

Posted: October 30, 2011

With four capable candidates for judge on the state's busiest appellate court, Pennsylvania voters can hardly go wrong on Nov. 8.

For Superior Court, which heard more than 8,400 criminal and civil appeals last year, a Pittsburgh judge, David N. Wecht, is squaring off against a Harrisburg attorney and former deputy attorney general, Victor P. Stabile.

Wecht, 49, has been an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge for more than eight years, formerly serving as the county's elected register of wills. A Yale graduate, the Democratic nominee earned the Pennsylvania Bar Association's "highly recommended" rating.

The bar association lauded Wecht's implementation of a "One Family, One Judge" program to handle cases in Family Court, where he served as administrative judge by appointment of the state Supreme Court.

Stabile, 54, is managing partner for his law firm's capital office, handling complex civil litigation. Stabile also served as a township supervisor for 10 years. The Republican nominee earned a "recommended" rating from the state bar.

While judicial experience doesn't assure than an appellate court judge will excel in the job, it provides an edge in this contest. So, voters' best choice for Superior Court is DAVID WECHT.

In the contest for Commonwealth Court between two Bucks County attorneys, the quasi-judicial experience of having served on the state's labor relations board gives an advantage to Republican ANNE E. COVEY, 51.

Her Democratic opponent, legal-services and voting-rights attorney Kathryn Boockvar, 43, earned the state bar association's praise as "bright, hardworking, and a zealous advocate."

But Covey, a corporate lawyer noted by the bar for her "administrative experience and judicial temperament," would be able to hit the ground running on this court, which handles appeals of government, regulatory, labor law, and worker's compensation.

For the Philadelphia courts, voters will be greeted by a bewildering number of candidates on the ballot - some seeking election for the first time, others seeking retention to another term.

Given the city's Democratic registration edge, the contested elections were all but decided in the primary. But in the retention elections, three judges have been rated "not recommended" by the Philadelphia Bar Association. "No" votes for James M. DeLeon of Municipal Court, and James M. Lynn and Robert J. Rebstock of Common Pleas Court, could help improve the quality of the city's judiciary.

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