Does this sound familiar?
A judge accused of viewing pornographic material on a computer in his chambers could face removal from office as a result.
Dozens of judges, prosecutors and other state officials were caught up in the scandal over lewd and offensive emails exchanged across state email servers in recent years, culminating in a heavily redacted report commissioned by ex-Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who had legal troubles of her own.
Click here to read the full story from Penn Live.
Don’t watch dirty videos at work: It seems like a common-sense rule, especially since the statewide embarrassment that was “porngate” is likely to still be fresh in the minds of Pennsylvania’s public officials.
But that rudimentary lesson—learned from the ruined careers of two state Supreme Court justices and other state officials who had pornographic emails on their government computers—was apparently lost on a Monroe County magisterial district judge who last week was hit with ethics charges.
Read more from Law.com & The Legal Intelligencer.
The Pennsylvania Building and Trades Council unanimously endorsed Supreme Court Justice Sallie Mundy.
“I am honored to have the endorsement of the hard working men and women of the State Building and Trades Council,” Sallie Mundy said in a press release.
Click here to read the full story from Philadelphia Business Journal (subscription required).
Just over one year ago, we came together as former governors from across the political spectrum to call for the adoption of merit selection of statewide judges and justices to the appellate courts of Pennsylvania: Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth courts.
A recent report on the judicial scandals that have plagued our Supreme Court, coupled with runaway spending in some recent judicial races, compel us to renew that call today.
Spending in the 2015 judicial elections topped $16 million. Spending to date in the most recent primary elections alone has hit more than $4.75 million. We can only imagine what will be spent on general election campaigning in the months leading up to November.
Read the full opinion editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
For decades, the Philadelphia Bar Association has enlisted members to spend 40-plus hours screening each judicial candidate in Philadelphia and decide on recommendations. Most everyone agrees the process is thorough and the group is the best at separating the qualified from the unqualified candidates.
But for years the group wondered if its rankings actually mattered. Did anybody see them? And if they did were they ever enough to counter the random question of ballot position, or the organization of the Democratic City Committee and ward leaders?
After an experiment during the May primary, the group discovered its ratings can matter. It teamed up with Philly data analysis firm Econsult Solutions, and had volunteers distribute a listing of candidates it recommended (and candidates it didn’t) at 41 polling places.
So how’d they do?
Read the full story in Billy Penn.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts approved the newest slate of members at its annual board meeting recently in Harrisburg.
Click here for the full list.
Someone stole a candy bar worth less than $2 and then missed a court hearing on the theft charge, resulting in a bench warrant that landed the accused in the Luzerne County prison for a night of lodging that cost taxpayers $110.
“It would have been cheaper for the county to buy this person the candy bar instead of paying for jail,” said Jacob Sills, who cited the case as one of the most frustrating he’s found in county case files.
Sills, head of Uptrust Inc., is dissecting the records as part of his company’s pilot program using text message reminders of court dates and other outreach to reduce the number of offenders who land in prison for failure to appear.
Read more in The Times Leader.
State Rep. Bryan Cutler, House majority whip and a Republican from Peach Bottom, has introduced House Bill 111,which seeks an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow for the merit selection of appellate judges. Jurists on the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme courts currently are elected by voters.
This is not a new idea.
Legislation proposing the merit selection of judges has been floated before, repeatedly, to no avail — by Cutler and others, including Attorney General Josh Shapiro, when he served in the House of Representatives.
But Cutler and his lead co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County, believe HB 111 improves on previous bills and has a better chance of seeing the light of day. It was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, but it has a very long way to go (it needs to pass in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly before even going to the voters).
Read the full Lancaster Online editorial here.
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
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 2 Penn Center, Suite 1140, Philadelphia, PA 19102