Republicans poised to hold majorities on Pa. appellate courts
Three Democrats and one Republican were leading in the vote count for four seats on the State Superior Court, but the margin between the two Republicans vying for fourth place was too close to call. The two seats open on the Commonwealth Court were split between a Democrat and a Republican.
With voting results still being tabulated late Tuesday, some seats on the state's intermediate appellate courts were still being contested. But it seemed safe to say that both Superior Court and Commonwealth Court would retain their Republican majorities.
Three Democrats and one Republican were leading in the vote count for four seats on Superior Court, but the margin between the two Republicans vying for fourth place was too close to call the race.
The two seats open on Commonwealth Court were split between a Democrat and a Republican, meaning that panel will maintain its 7-2 Republican majority.
There were nine candidates running for four seats on the 15-member Superior Court. Three of the top four vote-getters were Democratic newcomers Deborah Kunselman, Maria McLaughlin, and Carolyn Nichols. McLaughlin and Nichols are Common Pleas Court judges in Philadelphia.
The fourth spot turned into a race between Republicans Mary Murray, a district judge in Allegheny County, and Craig Stedman, district attorney of Lancaster County.
The top four finishers will serve 10-year terms on Superior Court, which hears appeals from the county courts in most criminal and civil cases, plus family law matters.
The other Superior Court candidate on the ballot, Republican Judge Jacqueline O. Shogun of Pittsburgh, was overwhelmingly retained for a new 10-year term.
Among the candidates whom voters rejected was Judge Geoff Moulton Jr., 59, a Montgomery County Democrat, appointed by Gov. Wolf to Superior Court to fill a vacancy last year.
The results would change the court's makeup from eight Republicans and six Democrats (with one vacancy) to eight Republicans and seven Democrats.
The race for the two seats on Commonwealth Court proved to be among the tightest on the ballot.
The leaders were Democratic candidate Ellen Ceisler, a judge on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, and Republican Christine Fizzano Cannon, a judge on Delaware County Court. Each will serve a 10-year term.
The nine-member Commonwealth Court has initial jurisdiction in cases involving state government, including litigation against agencies such as the state police, Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services. It also hears appeals of government-related cases that originated in county courts, such as residents' appeals of zoning, eminent domain, and right-to-know rulings.
Fizzano Cannon, 48, a former Delaware County councilwoman, was elected to a 10-year term on the Delaware County Court in 2011. She currently serves as head of the Civil Trial Section of the court and has presided over 120 trials and more than 1,400 civil cases.
Ceisler, 60, has been on the Philadelphia court for 10 years, overseeing criminal and civil trials. A 1986 graduate of the Temple University School of Law, she has been an assistant district attorney, an investigative television news producer, and director of the Philadelphia Police Department's Integrity and Accountability Office.
She was leading over Irene McLaughlin Clark, 55, a former judge on Pittsburgh Municipal Court.