Schuylkill County is set to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding to expand its drug treatment court.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., announced Wednesday that he helped secure $400,000 for the county to hire additional personnel to assist with the county court created earlier this year for defendants trying to overcome substance abuse. The county will receive a total of $400,000 over the course of three years.
Read the full story in the Republican Herald.
Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) said he has introduced legislation that would exempt emergency services personnel from jury duty in an effort to not compromise public safety.
“I believe that our dedicated emergency services folks should be available at all times to respond to threats to public health and safety,” said Diamond. “Granted, jury duty is a public service, but the volunteer fire and emergency service technicians are charged with saving lives, many times in an immediate fashion. This exemption from jury service should become law so that we will have all of our first-responders ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
Diamond said a constituent who serves as a volunteer firefighter contacted him for help to be excused from jury duty as the work was in a small department, and would have a significant impact on that company’s ability to respond to emergencies. Despite a letter being sent from the chief of the department, the request was denied. He added that this excuse is not written into law.
“This bill is needed because it is a commonsense provision to aid in the protection of our communities,” said Diamond.
House Bill 1837 is awaiting committee assignment.
On November 7th, voters will select justices to fill three seats on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. Across the country – including in Pennsylvania – state supreme court elections have become increasingly high-cost and politicized, posing serious threats to the integrity of state courts. As it has in the past, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will be tracking, analyzing, and publishing television spending data from these elections.
Key trends to watch include:
“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania continues to be at the forefront of a troubling new trend – massive outside spending in judicial races that threatens to erode the confidence of the public in our judiciary and, in some cases, create serious ethical conflicts when judges are forced to confront issues that affect their donors,” said Douglas Keith, counsel at the Brennan Center.
"Campaign spending on partisan elections for appellate court positions has continued its troubling and record-breaking rise. Consequently, we are redoubling our efforts to amend Pennsylvania's constitution so that we select judges and justices based on merit, not money,” Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts President & CEO Maida Milone said. “Justice in Pennsylvania should not go to the highest bidder.”
These races are taking place while Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is considering HB 111, which would put before voters a constitutional amendment to end partisan contested elections for the state’s highest courts. Instead, the amendment would put in place a nominating commission with 13 members appointed by the Governor and General Assembly leaders to vet and recommend judicial candidates to the Governor for appointment. Justices would still face retention elections for subsequent terms.
Spending estimates for the 2017 contests as well as copies of ads and storyboards provided by Kantar Media/CMAG will be available at the Brennan Center’s Buying Time page. Data from Pennsylvania's 2015 election is available at Buying Time 2015. (CMAG’s calculations do not reflect ad agency commissions or the costs of producing advertisements, nor do they reflect the cost of ad buys on local cable channels.)
The Brennan Center for Justice, the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and formerly Justice at Stake, have documented trends in spending in state supreme court elections since 2000 in a series of reports titled The New Politics of Judicial Elections.
Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on Fair Courts.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Naren Daniel at (646) 292-8381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four months before he allegedly took part in a botched robbery that left a Spring Garden father bleeding to death in front of his young daughter, Maurice Roberts was assessed for the likelihood he would commit just such a violent crime.
Philadelphia’s Adult Probation and Parole Department won’t say how he scored.
And the answer is hidden in the recesses of a computer algorithm officials don’t want to talk about.
That reluctance came as a surprise to Richard Berk, a criminologist from the University of Pennsylvania who helped create the algorithm.
Read more on Philly.com.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts to recognize the legislators with the inaugural Judge Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. Award during its Judicial Independence Benefit in October.
(Philadelphia) Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) is proud to announce that Rep. Bryan Cutler (R – Lancaster) and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D – Abington) will be honored with the inaugural Judge Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. Award.
Both are primary co-sponsors of HB 111, which would require a ballot referendum for voters to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a citizens’ nominating commission to select appellate judges.
Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only six states still electing all of its judges in partisan political elections.
The Judge Edmund B. Spaeth, Jr. Award is named for the former President Judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, former PMC Board Chair, and longtime advocate of merit selection of judges and fair and impartial courts.
“As a legislator, it is my job to conduct not only myself in a way that serves Commonwealth residents, but also to influence government as a whole to do the same. It has been a pleasure to champion a bill that would more appropriately address unlawful lobbying practices to increase government transparency,” Rep. Cutler said.
“What an honor it is to be recognized for work we are doing to help people trust their government.”
“We are honored to receive this award, named for an extraordinary jurist, the late President Judge Edmund B. Spaeth Jr.,” added Rep. Dean.
“Judge Spaeth championed what he believed: that judges’ political campaigning is inconsistent with a fair and impartial judiciary. And even more eloquent than his words on the issue of merit selection were his actions: in 1985, he declined to run for retention to a second 10-year term on Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.”
“In this era of increasing political division, their bipartisan work on this common sense judicial reform effort is inspiring,” added Maida R. Milone, PMC President & CEO.
Elected in 2012 to represent Pennsylvania's 153rd Legislative District, Rep. Madeleine Dean has nearly three decades of experience as a lawyer, writer and teacher. For 10 years, before becoming a member of the House, Rep. Dean was assistant professor of English at La Salle University in Philadelphia, where she taught writing and rhetoric, legal writing, and ethics.
Along with Rep. Bryan Cutler, she has been the leading voice for merit selection reform in the Legislature.
Elected in 2006 to represent Pennsylvania's 100th Legislative District and a lifelong resident of the Peach Bottom area, Rep. Bryan Cutler began serving as the Majority Whip in 2015. He is a graduate of Widener Law School.
Rep. Cutler has been a driving force for merit selection reform, and with Rep. Dean, has provided the leadership needed to advance this legislation.
HB 111--endorsed by Pennsylvania’s five former living governors—is awaiting a vote by the full House of Representatives.
PMC will honor the Representatives during its Judicial Independence Benefit on October 25th at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia. To learn more, visit www.pmconline.org.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania will hold a special session at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Alumni Auditorium on the Widener University campus in the city of Chester.
The special session offers an opportunity for Widener students — as well as members of the public — to learn about the service of the judiciary to all Pennsylvanians.
Serving on the special session panel are Judges Jack A. Panella, Alice Beck Dubow, and James J. Fitzgerald. Judge Panella maintains chambers in Northampton County, while Judges Dubow and Fitzgerald maintain chambers in Philadelphia.
Read the full announcement here.
What’s wrong with partisan judicial elections? What is it that unites Republican and Democratic former governors against them, or that inspires bipartisan legislative action to replace them? Or how can anyone question the right of the people in a democratic society to elect their judges?
Read more in the Standard Speaker.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said Monday he will not pursue a formal complaint with the state Judicial Conduct Board against a Latrobe district judge who he alleged in court was unfairly biased against local prosecutors.
Following a hearing on Peck's allegations, Common Pleas Court President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. last week removed District Judge Michael Mahady from presiding over a preliminary hearing for a 17-year Latrobe teen charged with fatally shooting a 15-year-old friend last month.
Read more in Trib Live.
Just before a jury was to be chosen for his trial Monday morning, former Harrisburg District Judge Robert Jennings III pleaded no contest to charges that he strong-armed constables for campaign cash.
Senior Judge Harold F. Woelfel Jr. promptly sentenced the 67-year-old Jennings to 2 years on probation and ordered him to pay $2,135 in restitution to two of the constables who claimed they gave money to Jennings' 2009 election campaign under duress.
Read more from Penn Live.
It took nearly 200 years for a woman to be elected judge in Westmoreland County.
On Wednesday, 35 years after Donetta Ambrose broke the gender barrier on the local bench, the county's 10 full-time judges chose Rita Hathaway as the first woman elected to serve as president judge.
Hathaway, 67, of Murrysville will take over as the administrative head of the local court in January.
“I am very honored and very excited,” Hathaway said.
Read more from Tribune Live.
What you'll find
PMC press releases, statements, and news coverage of our work, in addition to the latest news on Pennsylvania's courts, judicial elections, ethics, discipline and more.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges
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