Dandridge noted there are two significant upgrades to the process this year, the first is a newly added “Highly Recommended” rating and the second is the inclusion of rating Appellate Court candidates. Dandridge said that the ratings announced today provide the results for candidates on the ballot, who submitted to the Association’s evaluation process by the Bar’s announced deadline of December 5, 2014. He added that the list of “Highly Recommended,” “Recommended” and “Not Recommended” candidates is still incomplete due to the high volume of investigations. Additional names and ratings will be announced as investigations are completed on the remaining candidates.
“We are delighted to now offer a ‘Highly Recommended’ category to help better inform the public of extraordinary candidates who are considered preeminent in the profession,” Dandridge said. “Voters are encouraged to learn more about this new category and view the entire ratings list by visiting our website at www.philadelphiabar.org,” Dandridge said. He added that the Association wants voters to know why the judicial elections are so important and why the Association and Commission invest so much time and energy in thoroughly reviewing and rating these candidates. “This is the one place for voters to find a comprehensive, non-partisan, objective rating of the candidates.”
The Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention is independent and non-partisan. It includes lawyers and non-lawyers. Among the members of the Commission are community leaders, officials including the Chief Public Defender, City Solicitor, and the President Judges of Common Pleas Court and Municipal Court, and representatives of minority legal groups and various sections of the Bar.
The ratings by the 30-member Judicial Commission follow extensive study and investigation by the Commission’s own 140-member investigative division, which includes 30 non-lawyer members. Candidates found “Recommended” satisfied a cumulative review of criteria including qualifications such as legal ability, experience, integrity, temperament, community involvement and judgment. Candidates found “Highly Recommended” are extraordinary individuals who, in addition to meeting the “Recommended” criteria, are preeminent in the profession, exceptionally skilled in the law, possess a reputation for the utmost integrity and significantly will enhance or have enhanced the quality of the judiciary.
“This has been a record year for the Commission,” said Commission Chair A. Harold Datz. “The Commission will complete nearly 60 evaluations of candidates for the 15 open seats on Common Pleas Court and Municipal Court, which has been an enormous undertaking, involving hundreds of interviews by the investigative division and careful review, consideration and deliberation by the Commission. We appreciate all of the hard work of the Commission.”