October 30, 2017

By: Dennis Whitaker

Join us tomorrow as we live tweet from the Superior Court Candidates Forum at Widener Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg beginning at 12:30 p.m., and then check back later for our summary of the Forum.

Superior Court is Pennsylvania’s intermediate appellate court of general jurisdiction. The court when at full complement has 15 commissioned judges, and there currently are four vacancies. The open seats occurred with the retirement of Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen (R), the election of Judges Christine Donohue (D) and David Wecht (D) to the Supreme Court in 2015, and the appointment by Governor Wolf of Judge Sallie Mundy (R) to the Supreme Court seat vacated by former Justice J. Michael Eakin. Governor Wolf appointed Carl Solano (R) to replace Judge Allen, and H. Geoffrey Moulton, Jr. (D) and Lillian Harris Ransom (D) to replace former judges Donohue and Wecht. Mr. Solano and Ms. Ransom did not seek the nomination of their parties for a full term. The field for the four open seats is a crowded one, with four candidates each from the Democratic and Republican parties and one Green Party candidate.

The Democratic candidates are Judge Moulton, Judge Carolyn H. Nichols of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Judge Maria McLaughlin also of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and Judge Deborah A. Kunselman of the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas. The Republican candidates are Craig Stedman, currently District Attorney of Lancaster County, Judge Wade Kagarise of the Blair County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Emil A. Giordano of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas and Mary P. Murray, Magisterial District Judge (District 05-2-25) in Allegheny County. The Green Party candidate is attorney Jules Mermelstein of Upper Dublin, Montgomery County.

The current composition of commissioned Judges on the court stands at seven Republicans and four Democrats. An electoral sweep by the Democrats would result in an 8-7 Democratic majority. Otherwise, the Republicans will retain a majority of the commissioned judgeships.