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Current Judicial Selection Process - Elections

Click here to view the 2021 primary election results. 

Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states still electing all of its judges in partisan political elections.

Although PMC does not think this system is designed to select the most highly qualified judges, we believe that so long as Pennsylvania continues to elect its judges, it is our responsibility to inform the public about the elections and electoral process. Voters are often frustrated with how difficult it is to find relevant information and evaluate judicial candidates. PMC aims to diminish that frustration.

Judicial Election FAQ's for Voters

Why should you vote in judicial elections?

Judges make decisions which can impact you or your community in almost every aspect of your life: work, family, finances, shelter, and more. For example, you could not be treated fairly at work or not have received your pay for overtime work. You could have a dispute with your landlord or with a contractor who has been hired to repair something in your house. Or you and your spouse have decided to divorce and need to divide your assets and reach an agreement with respect to custody and visitation rights of your children. Even parking tickets and auto accident injuries and fault can be resolved in court. Judges play a critical role in the administration of justice and interpretation of the law. In order to ensure equal and fair justice, we must have qualified, impartial, and compassionate judges. In Pennsylvania, it is up to you, as a voter, to decide who is qualified to serve as a judge.

Who is eligible to become a judge and how should they be evaluated?

Judges must be members of the Bar of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (except magisterial district judges, who are instead required to pass an exam). They also must be district residents for one year prior to election. 

Things to consider when evaluating candidates:

  1. Legal experience such as courtroom experience and writing abilities
  2. Reputation for integrity and fairness
  3. Community involvement and public service
  4. Ongoing educational and professional activities
  5. Compassion
  6. Commitment to equal justice
  7. References and recommendations

Where can you find information about the candidates and elections?

  1. Pennsylvania Bar Association Ratings
    • The Pennsylvania Bar Association rates candidates as Highly Recommended, Recommended, or Not Recommended. The ratings are based in on a two-part evaluation process, including interviews conducted by both an investigative panel and the PBA's Judicial Evaluation Commission.  The Commission is composed of both lawyers and non-lawyers
  2. Philadelphia Bar Association recommendations
  3. Allegheny County Bar Association recommendations
  4. Bucks County Bar Association Resources & Results of the Plebiscite of Bucks County Judicial Candidates
  5. Chester County Bar Association Judicial Plebiscite Results & Materials Submitted by Candidates
  6. Delaware County Bar Association Judicial Selection Committee Result Report
  7. Montgomery Bar Association Report of the Autonomous Judiciary Committee
  8. Your County's Bar Association Website
  9. Candidates' Websites
  10. WHYY's "A voter guide to Pennsylvania's 2021 judicial elections"
  11. The Philadelphia Inquirer's "Philly Voter Guide: May 18, 2021"
  12. The Philadelphia Inquirer: "What's on your ballot in the Philly suburbs in the 2021 Pennsylvania Primary"
  13. Better Civics: Judicial Elections Toolkit (The resources in this toolkit are designed to inform Philadelphia voters about judicial elections and are free for everyone to use.)

What do the Pennsylvania Bar Association ratings mean?

  • Highly Recommended: “The candidate possesses the highest combination of legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament and would be capable of outstanding performance as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.”
  • Recommended: “Based on legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament, the candidate would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.”
  • Not Recommended: “Based on legal ability, experience, integrity or temperament, or any combination thereof, at the present time, the candidate is inadequate to perform satisfactorily as a judge or justice of the court for which he/she is a candidate.”

Judicial Election FAQ's for Candidates

The Judicial Ethics Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions with answers for people interested in seeking election as a judge. 

According to the webpage, the FAQ's "Are intended to provide information to interested persons and are not based upon specific facts submitted to the Committee. A judge or declared candidate for judge who desires to benefit from the "rule of reliance" should submit and inquiry to a member of the Committee."

Click here to read all of the FAQ's.

Can Judicial Candidates themselves ask for campaign contributions?

No, but their campaign committees can raise funds. Judicial candidates cannot personally solicit or accept funds. 

What can a judicial candidate say or not say during their campaign?

A candidate may state personal views on legal, political or other issues but may not make pledges or promises other than the faithful and impartial performance of their duties in office. A candidate may not make commitments with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the Court. 

2021 Elections for Appellate Court Judges

PMC is a nonpartisan organization. The material on this website is for general education and its posting does not imply that PMC supports or opposes any candidate. 

Supreme Court (1 Opening)

Supreme Court Candidates' Forum YouTube Thumbnail

Click here to watch our Supreme Court Candidates' Forum

 

 

Role of the Supreme Court: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the ultimate authority on matters brought before the lower courts. Supreme Court review is discretionary in many cases, and mandatory for limited categories of cases (e.g., interpretation of state constitution, cases involving the death penalty, etc.).

Candidate Name Current Position Party PA Bar Association Rating
P. Kevin Brobson PA Commonwealth Court President Judge R Highly Recommended
Patricia A. McCullough PA Commonwealth Court Judge R No 2021 rating yet, received the Recommended rating in the 2009 Commonwealth Court race
Maria C. McLaughlin PA Superior Court Judge D Highly Recommended
Paula A. Patrick Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge R Highly Recommended

 

Superior Court (1 Opening)

Superior Court Candidates' Forum YouTube Thumbnail

Click here to watch our Superior Court Candidates' Forum

 

 

Role of the Superior Court: The Superior Court hears civil and criminal appeals from Courts of Common Pleas. This is one of the busiest courts in the country. Panels of three judges preside over these cases.

Candidate Name Current Position Party PA Bar Association Rating
Jill L. Beck Attorney D Recommended
Timika R. Lane Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge D Recommended
Bryan S. Neft Attorney D Recommended
Megan Sullivan Deputy Attorney General R N/A

 

Commonwealth Court (2 Openings)

Commonwealth Court Candidates' Forum YouTube Thumbnail

Click here to watch our Commonwealth Court Candidates' Forum

 

 

Role of the Commonwealth Court: The Commonwealth Court hears original actions brought by and against the Commonwealth, appeals from decisions made by state agencies and some appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas. Panels of three judges preside over these cases.

Candidate Name Current Position Party PA Bar Association Rating
J. Andrew Crompton PA Commonwealth Court Judge R Recommended
Lori A. Dumas Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge D Recommended
Amanda Green Hawkins Assistant General Counsel, United Steel Workers D N/A
David L. Spurgeon Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge D Highly Recommended
Sierra Thomas Street Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge D Recommended
Stacy Sorokes Wallace Attorney R Not Recommended

Where can I find opinions issued by the judges who are running for election?

If a candidate has served on an appellate court, you can search for his/her/their opinions here.

Other Pennsylvania Judicial Elections

In addition the the statewide races for appellate court judges, there are also local elections for common pleas and municipal court judges.

Click here to find out if there are any judicial vacancies or judges standing for retention in your county. Please click on the links below to see which candidates are running in your local elections.

Allegheny County

Philadelphia County

Voting Information

Where can I register to vote?

Click here to register to vote in Pennsylvania. 

Where is my polling place?

Click here to find your polling place.