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State of Pennsylvania

Judicial Selection in the States: Pennsylvania

Overview

News

Georgia has one of the most complex trial court systems in the nation, with at least 6 distinct trial courts (Superior, Probate, State, Magistrate, Municipal,...

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A hearing was held earlier this week on a series of bills filed to address diversity in the Rhode Island judiciary. Video of the hearing...

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The ongoing efforts by members of the Rhode Island House to diversify the bench continues. HB 7908 as filed would require the state s Judicial...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Pennsylvania judiciary is composed of a supreme court, a superior court, a commonwealth court, a court of common pleas, and various minor courts. The supreme, superior, and commonwealth courts are appellate courts, and the court of common pleas is the trial court of general jurisdiction. Pennsylvania judges are chosen in partisan elections. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that holds its judicial elections in off years in conjunction with municipal elections.

Pennsylvania organizations such as Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts and the Pennsylvania Bar Association have worked for many years to promote merit selection and retention for Pennsylvania's judges. Former governor Tom Ridge was strongly committed to promoting merit selection, convening three summit meetings on the subject in the spring and summer of 2001, but he resigned the governorship in the fall of 2001 to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The new Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, pledged during his election campaign to pursue merit selection as governor, describing merit selection as "an idea whose time has come." In 2007, Governor Rendell included providing for merit selection of judges in a six-pronged proposal for restoring the public's trust in Pennsylvania government.