Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
|Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court|
|Method:||Partisan election of judges|
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court is one of Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts, the other being the Superior Court. The Commonwealth Court was established in 1968 in Article V, section 4 of the 1968 Pennsylvania Constitution.
The court is made up of nine judges who serve 10-year terms (beginning the January after their election and ending on the first Monday of the January ten years later - only on even-numbered years). The president judge is chosen by his or her colleagues for a five-year term. The court generally decides cases in three-judge panels and sits in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
Cases heard by the Commonwealth Court are generally determined by what the case is about, and the identity of the parties to the lawsuit. This is a different way of determining the type of case heard by an appellate court than in other states, where the distinction is usually between civil matters and criminal matters.
The Commonwealth Court usually takes cases:
- When the case involves state and local government and regulatory agencies, such as when a lawsuit is filed against one of those governmental agencies.
- When the subject involves:
Most appellate courts do not have original jurisdiction over cases, but the Commonwealth Court does, including election cases and cases where someone has filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
|Year||Appeals from Common Pleas||Agency appeals||Discretionary appeals||Original discretion||Board of Finance/Review||Original & appellate combined||Miscellaneous||Total filed|
This data is from a 2007 statistical overview prepared by the court.
- See also: Judicial selection in Pennsylvania
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 was 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.
Since 2000, the Commonwealth Court offers a mediation program to settle some cases through negotiation instead of litigation. Cases in these areas are covered:
- Workers' Compensation
- Zoning disputes
- Tax assessment challenges
Since the beginning of the program, about 1,600 cases have been assigned to it, and about half of those cases have been resolved through its mediation services.
- Website of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
- Judges of the court
- 2007 statistical overview
- Published opinions of the Commonwealth Court
- Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Historical Society
- May vary for chief judge
- Pennsylvania Constitution, Article V, Section 15
- Other Than in the City of Philadelphia Pennsylvania Constitution, Article V, Courts Other Than Philadelphia, Section 2
- Role of the Commonwealth Court
- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Pittsburgh Teamsters, Union Locals Support Democrat Panella for Top Court," October 10, 2009
- 2007 statistical overview
- Judicial selection in Pennsylvania
- State of the Court, 2008
2011The following is a list of candidates for the Commonwealth Court 2011 election:
|Candidate||Incumbency||District||Primary Vote||Election Vote|
|Renee Cohn Jubelirer||Yes||Retention election||70.6%|
|Paul P. Panepinto||Yes||Retention election||29.8%|
|Mary Hannah Leavitt||Yes||Retention election||72.1%|