February 6, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf on Wednesday tapped a bipartisan duo - a law school dean and a central Pennsylvania county judge - to fill vacancies on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Wolf said he would nominate Ken Gormley, dean and professor at the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, and Thomas Kistler, president judge of Centre County Court, to the bench. "I am pleased today to announce two extremely qualified and distinguished individuals as my nominees to serve on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the highest court in the commonwealth," Wolf said.
January 24, 2015 |
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane has won a state Supreme Court order barring a district attorney from bringing criminal charges against her until the high court rules on her challenge to the legal status of the special prosecutor who built the case against her. The court announced the freeze Thursday. The hold on any action by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman will last six weeks or more. The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for March 11 in Philadelphia on Kane's challenge.
January 22, 2015 |
TRENTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday adopted a new ethics standard for judges, as it ruled that two lower-court jurists who dined with a longtime friend who had been indicted had compromised judicial integrity by creating an appearance of partiality. The high court did not impose sanctions on the two, but made clear that going forward, such behavior would face punishment. The judges had argued that the earlier standard used to evaluate their conduct was too subjective.
January 15, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - An unprecedented number of vacancies on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has touched off a stampede of candidates for hotly contested races that will determine party control of the high court. A recent count shows at least 16 prospects lining up for the May primary, all vying for three seats left open by retirement and scandal-tainted departures. Not since the court was created in the early 18th century have there been as many vacancies on the seven-member bench at one time.
December 28, 2014 |
Even as Gov. Christie has slammed the state Supreme Court as too "activist," his administration's inability to establish new affordable-housing rules has raised the prospect that the high court will intervene next year. New Jersey has failed for more than a decade to update its requirements to help municipalities satisfy their constitutional obligation to each provide a fair share of the region's affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents. After repeated attempts by the Christie administration to fundamentally change that process, the court will hear oral arguments next month in a case brought by affordable-housing advocates, who want the justices to coordinate development of new rules.
November 28, 2014 |
As his marriage began to crumble in 2010, and his job at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown hung in the balance, Anthony Elonis took to the Internet to vent his frustrations. He posted rap lyrics on Facebook in which he seemingly threatened to kill his wife, an FBI agent, and local police while also suggesting he might attack Dorney Park and even a local elementary school. He was soon arrested, tried, and convicted of making threats over the Internet, and was sentenced to 44 months in prison.
October 28, 2014 |
After weeks of turmoil and recrimination, Monday's announcement that Seamus McCaffery would step down from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is an important move toward restoring the credibility of a court badly shaken by internal intrigue and allegations of impropriety. That is the view of many lawyers who practice before the court, who say further infighting would have severely hampered the court's ability to function. Nancy Winkelman, a partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis L.L.P.
October 28, 2014 |
Colleagues say Robert Byer practices law with the precision of a diamond-cutter: Disciplined, dispassionate, and led by keen intelligence. "Beyond brilliant," said his college roommate, Philadelphia lawyer Jeffrey Pasek. An appellate expert, Oxford scholar, and former Commonwealth Court judge, lawyer for Ford Motor Co., Columbia Pictures, and Travelers Insurance, he has now been appointed special counsel to the fractured and fractious Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Byer, 62, is the court's attorney, its legal representative and adviser at a chaotic moment when the justices have suspended one of their own, Seamus McCaffery, in an evolving scandal over e-mailed pornography.
October 27, 2014 |
Seamus P. McCaffery, the embattled Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice caught up in the pornographic e-mail scandal, has resigned from the high court. McCaffery, 64, notified friends and associates Monday. He also sent a two-paragraph letter to Gov. Corbett announcing his intention to retire after 20 years as a judge. "It has all been a great honor and privilege, which I deeply cherish," it said. His resignation followed a weekend of intense and secret negotiations in which McCaffery, a former Philadelphia police officer and municipal court judge, was able to guarantee his government pensions and agreed not to seek another elective office, court sources said.
October 22, 2014 |
In suspending Justice Seamus McCaffery on Monday and ordering the state's Judicial Conduct Board to conduct an expedited review of allegations against him, his fellow justices took a necessary first step toward restoring a semblance of dignity to the state's highest court. Recent events have made it excruciatingly clear that the Supreme Court is in a state of disarray. With Justice J. Michael Eakin stopping just short of accusing McCaffery of blackmail in an expanding controversy over pornographic messages, the court had little choice but to act quickly to address this corrosive scandal.