Politics & Government

Voters Guide May 2019: Superior Court judge race

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge

Description: The Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania’s two statewide intermediate appellate courts. This court, which was established in 1895, reviews most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the Courts of Common Pleas in the commonwealth’s 67 counties. The Superior Court consists of 15 judges who serve 10-year terms. The president judge of the Superior Court is elected to a five-year term by his or her colleagues. A huge volume of appeals flows to Superior Court from the trial courts. Generally, appeals are heard by panels of three judges sitting in Philadelphia, Harrisburg or Pittsburgh. The court often is the final arbiter of legal disputes. Although the Supreme Court may grant a petition for review of a Superior Court decision, most such petitions are denied and the ruling of the Superior Court stands.

Candidates (vote for not ore than two):

Amanda Green-Hawkins

Party: Dem

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4766, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Campaign Phone: 412-368-2768

Website: http://www.AmandaGreenHawkins.com

Campaign Email: Jann@AmandaGreenHawkins.com

Education: Duke University, B.A.; Northeastern University School of Law, J.D.

Qualifications: I represented the union in courts and federal and state agencies around the country. I was a law clerk for the Hon. Lawrence M. Lawson, AJSC, in the Superior Court of NJ – Monmouth Division, and a legal intern for the Hon. Joseph Greenaway, USDJ, in the U.S. District Court for the District of NJ in Newark. I’ve been a mediator, and a law clerk for the IUE-CWA, and Levy Ratner, a union-side law firm. I was elected twice to Allegheny County Council.

Twitter: twitter.com/AGHforJudge

Facebook: http://@AmandaforJudge

Municipality: Pittsburgh

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: Temperament is the most important quality in a judge. Parties and litigants in our courts must be heard and treated respectfully, and a judge’s temperament is critical to a party’s belief that he/she had their day in court by being heard and treated respectfully. People are more likely to accept a decision, even if they disagree with it, if they are treated fairly. A judge must be able to listen, without expressing exasperation, frustration, annoyance or other behaviors that may reflect bias, and raise concerns about prejudice and injustice in the justice system. A good judicial temperament helps to improve satisfaction with the courts, and perceptions about the courts.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: Implicit bias affects whether people have access to justice. The Interbranch Commission reported that people have experienced bias in our courts based on race, gender, and gender identity or expression. Implicit bias is prejudice that unconsciously affects decisions and beliefs, and it is cited as a factor in disparate treatment in our judicial system. We must recognize and confront our implicit biases, and this has to become a practice in order to effectuate change in our judicial system. On the bench, I will rigorously question the basis for decisions, and challenge disparities in treatment to eliminate implicit bias and ensure access to justice for all Pennsylvanians. Off the bench, I will continuously challenge myself to recognize and confront my own implicit biases that may impede access to justice. Justice and equality demand that people be treated fairly under the law; therefore, judges must be compelled to act with unbiased humanity.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: I will abide by the judicial code which requires recusal or disqualification under specific enumerated circumstances, or when my impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

Daniel McCaffery

Party: Dem

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 472, Bensalem, PA 19020

Campaign Phone: 267-738-6240

Website: http://www.judgemccaffery.com

Campaign Email: Cdee@advantagepep.com

Education: Temple University, B.S., 1988; Temple University School of Law, J.D., 1991

Qualifications: I will bring 28 years of legal experience to the Superior Court. As an assistant district attorney assigned to the Major Trials Division, I’ve prosecuted over 50 jury trials and thousands of bench trials. As a current trial judge since 2013, assigned to one of the busiest trial divisions in Pennsylvania, I have presided over thousands of trials. I am honored to be the only candidate to have received a “Highly Recommended” for this seat on the Superior Court by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Twitter: twitter.com/JudgeMcCaffery

Facebook: http://McCafferyforSuperiorCourt

Municipality: Statewide

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: Impartiality and work ethic.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: All judges must make sure that every participant in the legal system is aware of their rights and responsibilities to the court and afforded quality representation in each step of the proceedings. Measures must be taken to inform all participants of the various services available to obtain quality representation and every judge must endeavor to make sure that all Pennsylvanians participating in the judicial system are afforded quality representation.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: I would recuse in any case where I feel I could not be fair and impartial to either side of a dispute or where my impartiality may fairly be questioned. I have recused in instances where there is an actual or perceived conflict of interest in order to preserve the integrity of the judicial system and the appearance of impartiality and fairness to participants and the public.

Beth Tarasi

Party: Dem

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 23486, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Campaign Phone: 412-519-5404

Website: http://www.tarasiforsuperiorcourt.com

Campaign Email: beth@tarasiforsuperiorcourt.com

Education: 1982-University of Pittsburgh - BA dual major business - speech rhetoric; 1991 - Juris Doctorate Duquesne University - evening division

Qualifications: I have 28 years of hands-on trial and litigation work. This experience uniquely qualifies me. The cases I have handled are the cases that the Superior Court hears and rules on. I have successfully argued before the Superior Court and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. I am the only candidate to be AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated (Martindale Hubble). This is a blind rating and not many attorneys have or get this rating. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice where I serve on their Amicus Committee.

Twitter: twitter.com/bethtarasi

Facebook: http://Beth Tarasi

Municipality: Sewickley Heights, Allegheny County

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: A judge should exhibit the following aspects of proper judicial temperament: Patience, open-mindedness, courtesy, tact, courage, punctuality, firmness, understanding, compassion, humility and common sense. I have appeared before judges thousands of times and I find these qualities to be the most important. One of these qualities without the other is not enough. A judge must have these 11 qualities to render fair and impartial decisions for the citizens (litigants/parties) before them.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: On the bench I will always treat those before me with dignity and respect. If the person is pro-se I will go out of my way to understand the issue that they are raising before me. I will be permitted to teach and speak at seminars about the need for all persons to have access to justice. I will continue to volunteer for Kids Voice and organization that raises money and sets up the infrastructure for children to be represented in court.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: I would recuse myself if any question of impartiality arose. I have in my practice of law turned down representing clients whom I would have had a conflict of interest in representing. A judge must at all times be free from any external influence.

Megan McCarthy King

Party: Rep

Mailing Address: 201 W. Market St., West Chester, PA 19355

Campaign Phone: 484-602-5080

Website: http://meganking2019.com

Campaign Email: megankingforjudge@gmail.com

Education: Vanderbilt University, B.A. (1992); University of Pittsburgh School of Law, J.D. (1995); Rosemont College, M.A. (Ed.) 2010

Qualifications: Deputy district attorney Child Abuse Unit, Chester County. Supervisor of the Child and Elder Abuse Units of Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office. 2018 awarded Pennsylvania Blue Ribbon Champion for Children. Board president, Child Advocacy Center, Chester County. Clerk, Justice Thomas Saylor, Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Adjunct professor, Cabrini College, graduate studies - taught education law and special education laws and regulations. Recommended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Facebook: http://megan king for judge

Municipality: Easttown Township, Chester County

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: The most important quality in a judge is a commitment to impartiality - to set aside his/her own point of view and to carry out the law in a fair and impartial manner. Judges are sworn in to uphold the law - to apply the law to the facts, regardless of popular opinion, political pressure or personal belief. As a prosecutor, I have a well-established reputation for following the facts and the law to a fair conclusion. I defend the presumption of innocence and do all that I can to make sure charges are filed when warranted under the law and the facts. With each case, I take a total picture approach, taking into consideration all of the competing dynamics. There is a tremendous responsibility as a prosecutor and a judge, and impartiality and fairness are the most important qualities. The concepts of fairness and equal justice are not just words to me, and I am committed to interpreting the law with integrity, honor and common sense.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: The access to justice crisis exists in the criminal and civil justice system. People can be denied justice because they are unable to afford lawyers. The justice system should be accessible to all, irrespective of a person’s ability to pay. Accordingly, increasing pro bono efforts should be encouraged. Utilizing the court’s public website - offering forms and a manual for pro se litigants increases access as well as assists judges to discern what are the specific matters on appeal that is being pursued. Another way to ensure access to justice, judges on and off the bench must work to create a presumption of a fair and equal justice system so that those seeking access to the courts believe their matter will be handled fairly and equally regardless of their social or economic status or any other potential obstacle to receiving fair treatment.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: Whenever a judge has any doubt about his/her ability to impartially preside over a matter, or believes that his/her impartiality might reasonably be questioned by others, the judge should recuse themselves, as even the appearance of bias must be avoided. Pennsylvania’s Code of Judicial Conduct requires that Pennsylvania judges avoid both impropriety and its appearance in all of their activities. Accordingly, judges should err on the side of caution and recuse himself/herself whenever they have a doubt about their ability to preside over a legal matter.

Christylee Peck

Party: Rep

Mailing Address: 4431 N. Front St., 3rd Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17110

Campaign Phone: 717-288-7105

Website: http://electjudgepeck.com/

Campaign Email: christyleepeckforjudge@gmail.com

Education: Penn State, B.A. 1997; Dickinson School of Law, J.D. 2001

Qualifications: I have served as a Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas judge since 2012, handling all areas of law (civil, family, PFAs, criminal, dependency, appellate). Before that, I was a prosecutor handling major felonies and child abuse cases. I am on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Independence and Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children board. I am involved with several groups that improve the administration of justice. I am endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.

Facebook: http://@christyleepeckforsuperiorcourt

Municipality: Cumberland County

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: Fairness, impartiality, respect for the law and for those who come before the court. As a Court of Common Pleas judge, I am prepared with firm knowledge of the law when going into court, but never make a decision before hearing all facts, listening with an open mind and giving legal arguments thoughtful consideration and review. Judges should have an interest and curiosity in the law, and care for the citizens to whom it is applied. We must at all times ensure the integrity of the bench and adhere to the Code of Judicial Conduct. We improve people’s respect for the judiciary by always showing them respect.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: As a sitting judge now, I ensure that all people who come before me are given due process. If any litigant represents themselves, I ensure that they have a general knowledge of the procedure in court. If language interpretation is required or even possibly so, I ensure that same is provided before the start of any proceeding. I treat all those that come to my courtroom with respect so that they know they have equal access to justice before me. I listen. I do not prejudge. I ensure fairness to all. Off the bench, I work to improve the administration of justice. I formerly was a co-chair of the Legal Representation Workgroup of the Pennsylvania Statewide Children’s Roundtable. We worked to improve legal representation and create standards for attorneys that represent parents and children in dependency proceedings. I support the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network and pro bono representation programs.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: Every day as a judge, I review each matter coming before me preliminarily to determine and ensure my impartiality on the matter. I am mindful of Rule 2.11 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and would recuse accordingly if circumstances warranted it. If ever there is even an appearance of impropriety for any reason, I always discuss it with counsel, or if unrepresented, with the parties, and ensure that an informed decision is made by all as to whether I may continue on the case. Although infrequent, disclosure of the above is paramount, prior to the start of any proceeding.

Rebecca Warren

Party: Rep

Mailing Address: 838 Stockton Mountain Road, Beaver Meadows, PA 18216

Campaign Phone: 570-441-2451

Website: http://www.warren4judge.com

Campaign Email: warren4judge@gmail.com

Education: The Dickinson School of Law; Bloomsburg University

Qualifications: I have 27 years of full-time courtroom experience in both civil and criminal law, having presented thousands of cases in county, state and federal courts. I was an elected district attorney who personally prosecuted thousands of cases and instituted robust victim rights programs, including for children and the elderly. I have extensive appellate court experience, including before the Superior Court. I am very familiar with the operation and duties of the Superior Court.

Facebook: http://Rebecca Warren for Superior Court

Municipality: statewide

Q: What is the most important quality in a judge?

A: The ability to be impartial. A judge must always listen, keep an open mind, and apply the rule of law and Constitution to the facts of each particular case. A judge must act with the utmost integrity, exhibit fairness at all times and ensure that justice is dispensed equally to everyone. Having lost my father and brother in a double homicide by vehicle and initially being denied justice made me realize that our justice system is broken. I am respectfully requesting the citizens of Pennsylvania to elect me to the Superior Court so that I can ensure fairness and equal justice for all.

Q: As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

A: Educating citizens regarding their rights is always important. Education empowers individuals by providing information and direction. Judges may be involved in committees which determine access to justice issues. Judges can speak to groups regarding the justice system and available resources. When a judge is on the bench, it is of utmost importance that they listen, allow each party to have their “day in court,” and dispense justice in accordance with the law and Constitution in a fair and impartial manner.

Q: Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

A: If one of the parties is a relative or close friend, I would recuse myself from the case to avoid the appearance of impropriety. I would recuse myself from any case in which I did not believe I could act impartially due to personal connections. It is extremely important for judges to ensure that the system is fair and equal.

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