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State of Pennsylvania

Judicial Selection in the States: Pennsylvania

Overview

News

California law (Elec Code § 13107) allows for those seeking judicial office to designate their current principal professions, vocations, or occupation with up to a...

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A plan to restructure North Carolina s entire judicial election map was approved in committee earlier this week but appears to have been blocked from...

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News reports indicate that at least two members of the New Jersey Senate plan to introduced a constitutional amendment to require New Jersey supreme court...

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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.