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State of Pennsylvania

Judicial Selection in the States: Pennsylvania

Overview

News

I mentioned in the last post on Arkansas Issue 1 that most states elect the clerks of their general jurisdiction courts. In all, a total...

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On the ballot this November in Arkansas is Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would make several changes to the terms, election, and eligibility of...

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The Oklahoma Senate yesterday approved its version of HB 3162, a constitutional amendment that would restructure the way appellate judges are chosen in the state...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Pennsylvania judiciary is composed of a supreme court, a superior court, a commonwealth court, a court of common pleas, and various minor courts. The supreme, superior, and commonwealth courts are appellate courts, and the court of common pleas is the trial court of general jurisdiction. Pennsylvania judges are chosen in partisan elections. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that holds its judicial elections in off years in conjunction with municipal elections.

Pennsylvania organizations such as Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts and the Pennsylvania Bar Association have worked for many years to promote merit selection and retention for Pennsylvania's judges. Former governor Tom Ridge was strongly committed to promoting merit selection, convening three summit meetings on the subject in the spring and summer of 2001, but he resigned the governorship in the fall of 2001 to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The new Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, pledged during his election campaign to pursue merit selection as governor, describing merit selection as "an idea whose time has come." In 2007, Governor Rendell included providing for merit selection of judges in a six-pronged proposal for restoring the public's trust in Pennsylvania government.