Three of four elected Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judges new to the bench

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Four new Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judges include a longtime prosecutor, a defense attorney, a career advocate for children and families, and an already-sitting judge.

Mark V. Tranquilli, a deputy district attorney in charge of the homicide unit, was the top vote-getter. He also led both tickets in the primary.

"It's really humbling and gratifying to realize the people of Allegheny County pay attention," Mr. Tranquilli said Tuesday night from his home in Upper St. Clair.

He attributed much of his success to name recognition following his prosecution of a number of high-profile cases, including that of Richard Poplawski, who was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for killing three Pittsburgh police officers.

"They remember you're a person out there fighting for public safety," Mr. Tranquilli said.

Cozza
Satler
Tranquilli
Bush

Paul E. Cozza, who is already serving in the family division of Common Pleas Court following an appointment by the governor in 2011, also won his own 10-year term.

Judge Cozza, of Baldwin Township, previously served as a special master on the county Board of Viewers.

He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

A third seat on the bench will be filled by criminal defense attorney Jennifer Satler.

Ms. Satler, who lives on the North Side, served in the Allegheny County Public Defender's office from 2001 to 2007 and now is in private practice.

"I'm thrilled. It's a very humbling experience," she said. "I felt like I took my message to the people."

Ms. Satler stayed at home for election night, celebrating with her young son, husband, dog and neighbors.

"I can't wait to start."

Eleanor Bush, who currently serves as the legal training division manager for the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network, also secured a seat on the bench.

She has spent her legal career working with children and families, and hopes to be assigned to the family division.

"I think people who took the time to learn about the candidates learned about the years of service I've dedicated to advocating for children and families and saw what I've achieved -- that I'm a good fit for family court."

She, too, spent the evening at home with her husband and two daughters in Squirrel Hill, although Ms. Bush said they were planning to stop in at new Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's victory party.

There are 50 judges on the Allegheny County court in four divisions: civil, criminal, family and orphan's. Generally, newly elected judges are assigned to the family division.

The two unsuccessful candidates were Bill Ward and P.J. Murray.

Judge Ward, who was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett to fill a seat on the Common Pleas bench in June 2012, has served in the family division since then.

He previously served as the governor's chief of staff, as a law clerk, defense attorney and on the state Board of Probation and Parole.

Mr. Murray, of Upper St. Clair, is a partner with the Pittsburgh office of Dinsmore & Shohl and practices in complex civil litigation. He also serves on the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board.

The six candidates were vying for four 10-year seats, which pay $173,271 annually.

Six Common Pleas Court judges also won retention by wide margins. They are Judge Ronald W. Folino, Jill E. Rangos, Kathleen R. Mulligan, Christine A. Ward, Lawrence J. O'Toole and John A. Zottola.

 


Paula Reed Ward can be reached at pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

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