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State of Pennsylvania

Methods of Judicial Selection: Pennsylvania

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 7
Superior Court: 15
Commonwealth Court: 9
Court of Common Pleas: 439
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: 1
Superior Court: 1
Commonwealth Court: 1
Court of Common Pleas: 60
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: statewide
Superior Court: statewide
Commonwealth Court: statewide
Court of Common Pleas: district
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: partisan election*
Superior Court: partisan election*
Commonwealth Court: partisan election*
Court of Common Pleas: partisan election*
Length of Term
Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Superior Court: 10 yrs
Commonwealth Court: 10 yrs
Court of Common Pleas: 10 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: retention election
Superior Court: retention election
Commonwealth Court: retention election
Court of Common Pleas: retention election
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Superior Court: 10 yrs
Commonwealth Court: 10 yrs
Court of Common Pleas: 10 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment with two-thirds senate approval
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment with two-thirds senate approval
Commonwealth Court: gubernatorial appointment with two-thirds senate approval
Court of Common Pleas: gubernatorial appointment with two-thirds senate approval
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: next municipal election more than 10 mos after vacancy occurs or upon expiration of term**
Superior Court: next municipal election more than 10 mos after vacancy occurs or upon expiration of term**
Commonwealth Court: next municipal election more than 10 mos after vacancy occurs or upon expiration of term**
Court of Common Pleas: next municipal election more than 10 mos after vacancy occurs or upon expiration of term
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: seniority
Superior Court: peer vote
Commonwealth Court: peer vote
Court of Common Pleas: seniority or peer vote
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: duration of term
Superior Court: 5 yrs
Commonwealth Court: 5 yrs
Court of Common Pleas: 5 yrs
Qualifications
Supreme Court: 1 yr state resident; maximum age of 70; state bar member
Superior Court: 1 yr state resident; maximum age of 70; state bar member
Commonwealth Court: 1 yr state resident; maximum age of 70; state bar member
Court of Common Pleas: 1 yr district resident; maximum age of 70; state bar member

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article V of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

*If more than one open seat is being filled, all of the candidates run at large and the top vote getters fill the open seats.

**By tradition, interim appointees to the appellate courts do not stand for election.