Home Heartland Square Pennsylvania Pennsylvania voters to pick judges, weigh in on Marsy’s Law

Pennsylvania voters to pick judges, weigh in on Marsy’s Law

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Pennsylvania voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide on judicial seats and a proposal to extend additional rights to crime victims.

Voters will cast ballots for a pair of Superior Court of Pennsylvania seats. They will also decide whether to retain two Superior Court of Pennsylvania judges.

Candidates seeking to fill the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacancies are two Democrats – Judge Daniel McCaffery, a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, and Amanda Green-Hawkins, a United Steelworkers (USW) attorney – and two Republicans – Megan McCarthy King, deputy district attorney in the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, and Christylee Peck, a Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas judge.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Commission (PBA JEC) highly recommended McCaffery and recommended King and Peck. It did not recommend Green-Hawkins.

“Our commission provides information to help voters choose candidates who are best suited to serve as fair, impartial and knowledgeable jurists on our commonwealth’s highest courts,” Heidi Masano, chair of the PBA JEC, said in a news release. “The PBA JEC only recommends candidates found to have the legal ability, experience, integrity and temperament that are needed to provide satisfactory or outstanding performance as appellate judges and justices.”

Two candidates – Anne Lazarus and Judith Olson – are seeking retention to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The PBA JEC recommended both candidates.

Two candidates – P. Kevin Brobson and Patricia McCullough – are seeking retention to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The PBA JEC recommended both candidates.

Keystone State voters will also decide whether to adopt Marsy’s Law, a grassroots initiative known as the Crime Victim Rights Amendment. The constitutional amendment would codify a series of rights for crime victims that match those afforded to defendants.

Then-state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters Township, sponsored Marsy’s Law during the 2017-18 legislative session. Both the state House and the state Senate unanimously passed the proposal.

State Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, sponsored this year’s iteration of the proposal. According to Ballotpedia.org, 12 states have passed Marsy’s Law, and the first state to pass the legislation – California – passed its measure in 2008.

However, Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled election officials could not count votes until a decision is made about challenges the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) presented. The ACLU argued the proposed amendment affects other portions of the state constitution.

The state Democratic and Republican parties both endorsed the passage of Marsy’s Law.

Meanwhile, high-profile mayoral races are also on the ballot in two Pennsylvania cities. Both seats were vacated in the wake of corruption charges.

In Allentown, interim mayor Ray O’Connell, a Democrat, faces off against Republican Tim Ramos. The winner finishes the final two years of Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s term; Pawlowski, a Democrat, resigned in 2018 after he was convicted on corruption charges.

In Scranton, seven candidates, including Democrat Chris Cullen and Republican Charlie Spano, are vying to be the city’s next mayor. The winner replaces Democratic Mayor Bill Courtright, who resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.