Judicial selection in Pennsylvania

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Pennsylvania
Seal of Pennsylvania.png
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   10 years
Pennsylvania Superior Court
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   10 years
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   10 years
Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   10 years
Pennsylvania Magisterial Districts
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

Judicial selection in Pennsylvania takes the form of partisan elections.[1]

Supreme Court

See also: Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Pennsylvania's seven state supreme court justices are elected in partisan statewide elections to ten-year terms on the court.

Interim vacancies

Interim vacancies on the court are filled by gubernatorial appointment with the consent of a supermajority vote of 2/3rds of the Pennsylvania Senate. Any interim justices so appointed must stand for election at the next municipal election that is more than ten months after the vacancy occurs. However, it is a tradition that judges who are appointed as interim justices to the Supreme Court do not go on to run for permanent seats; in other words, the governor appoints judges where it is the expectation of both the governor and the judge that the judge will only fill the interim vacancy, not a permanent seat.[2]

Subsequent terms

Once a justice has first been elected to the court, he or she must run in a retention election for subsequent ten-year terms on the court.

Qualifications for service

In order to serve on the Supreme Court, Commonwealth Court or Superior Court, one must:

  • be under the age of 70;
  • have state residence for at least one year; and
  • be a member of the state bar.[2]

Commonwealth Court

See also: Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court

Judges of the Commonwealth Court are chosen in partisan elections to ten-year terms. After serving an initial ten-year term, judges are then subject to a retention election.

If an interim vacancy occurs on the court, it is filled via gubernatorial appointment and 2/3rds of the Pennsylvania Senate must agree with that appointment. Judges of the court who are appointed in this interim fashion are required to run for a full ten-year term at the next municipal election that is scheduled at least ten months after the vacancy occurred, or the original term of the judge who left the court expires. However, it is a tradition in Pennsylvania that judges who are appointed as interim judges to the Commonwealth Court do not go on to run for permanent seats; in other words, the governor appoints judges where it is the expectation of both the governor and the judge that the judge will only fill the interim vacancy, not a permanent seat.[2]

Superior Court

See also: Pennsylvania Superior Court

The fifteen judges of the Superior Court are elected to 10 year terms and participate in retention elections.[2]

If an interim vacancy occurs on the court, it is filled via gubernatorial appointment and 2/3rds of the Pennsylvania Senate must agree with that appointment. Judges of the court who are appointed in this interim fashion are required to run for a full ten-year term at the next municipal election that is scheduled at least ten months after the vacancy occurred, or the original term of the judge who left the court expires. However, it is a tradition in Pennsylvania that judges who are appointed as interim judges to the Commonwealth Court do not go on to run for permanent seats; in other words, the governor appoints judges where it is the expectation of both the governor and the judge that the judge will only fill the interim vacancy, not a permanent seat.[2]

Court of Common Pleas

See also: Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas represents 60 districts and serves as the main trial courts in the state. As of 2010, there are 439 judges at this level of the judiciary. They are also elected to 10 year terms and are subject to retention elections. The only difference is that judges at this level are elected by voters in the district they represent.[2]

Minor courts

See also: Pennsylvania Magisterial Districts and Philadelphia Municipal Court

The magisterial district judges, as well as judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, serve six-year terms.[3]

Retention elections

After serving initial terms to which they were elected, justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and judges of the Superior, Commonwealth and Common Pleas courts who wish to seek re-election may do so in retention elections.[4]

In Pennsylvania, retention elections are held in November, in odd numbered years. Voters are asked to vote "yes" or "no" on whether to re-elect each judge seeking retention. The names of those judges who are seeking retention are listed in a separate part of the ballot. No political affiliation is listed.[4]

See also

External links

References

PennsylvaniaSupreme Court of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Superior CourtPennsylvania Commonwealth CourtPennsylvania Court of Common PleasPennsylvania Magisterial DistrictsPhiladelphia Municipal CourtPhiladelphia Traffic CourtPittsburgh Municipal CourtUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of PennsylvaniaUnited States District Court for the Middle District of PennsylvaniaUnited States District Court for the Western District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Middle District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of PennsylvaniaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Third CircuitPennsylvania countiesPennsylvania judicial newsPennsylvania judicial electionsJudicial selection in PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaTemplate.jpg