Superior Court Races: Nine vying for three seats

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In a crowded race for a spot on the state Superior Court, nine candidates are vying for just three open seats.

Two of the openings were created when Judges Seamus P. McCaffery and Debra Todd moved to the Supreme Court in the November 2007 election. The third seat come from the mandatory retirement of Judge Richard Klein, said Art Heinz, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

Recommendations listed below are from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission.

The candidates include:

• Robert J. Colville, recommended, endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. The Democrat graduated from Duquesne University law school and lives in Ross.

Having spent the last 10 years on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Colville, 43, cites a broad base of legal experience as his qualification for the Superior Court. He has served as a law clerk at the state Supreme Court, been a trial lawyer and served in three of five divisions on the county bench.

During his time in the civil court, Judge Colville has helped clear a 4,000-case backlog of asbestos claims over the last two years. When he started, there were many cases more than nine years old. Now, he said, there are less than two dozen. Judge Colville's father, Robert E. Colville, is a senior judge on the Superior Court.

• Anne Lazarus, Democratic ticket, highly recommended, and endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. She graduated from Temple University law school and lives in Philadelphia.

Elected to the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court 18 years ago, Judge Lazarus believes moving to an appellate court is the next logical step in her career. In 18 years on the bench, she has served in every division of the court except family.

Judge Lazarus, 56, has written five law review articles and is interested in encouraging attorneys to take on more indigent clients.

Judge Lazarus ran unsuccessfully for Superior Court in November 2007.

• Kevin F. McCarthy, Democratic ticket, recommended. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh law school and lives in Dormont.

Mr. McCarthy, 47, serves as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County. He has worked in the appellate division for 18 years and considers himself an "appellate specialist."

He has appeared before the Superior Court some 150 times. Twice, he successfully appealed orders that vacated first-degree murder convictions.

In addition to his work as an assistant prosecutor, Mr. McCarthy also has sat more than 30 times as an arbitrator for Allegheny County. During that time, he has heard approximately 100 cases.

• Sallie Updyke Mundy, Republican ticket, recommended, and endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Ms. Mundy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh law school and lives in Tioga.

Ms. Mundy, 46, has lived and worked all over Pennsylvania. Her legal practice has focused primarily as a defense attorney in medical malpractice cases, along with insurance defense. She now does plaintiff personal injury work, as well.

She works for the firm McEldrew & Fullam, P.C., in Philadelphia.

• Thomas J. Munley, Democratic ticket, recommended. Mr. Munley graduated from Loyola University law school in New Orleans and lives in Jessup, outside of Scranton.

In November 2005, Judge Munley was elected to the Lackawanna County Common Pleas Court. Before that he spent 31 years as a trial lawyer, working primarily in criminal defense.

Before becoming an attorney, Judge Munley, 62, taught school for a year before joining the Army. He served nearly a year in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star.

• Judith F. Olson, Republican ticket, highly recommended, and endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Duquense University law school and lives in Franklin Park.

Appointed to the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court for a seat that expires at the end of this year, Judge Olson, 51, has been an attorney for 27 years. During her career, she handled complex commercial litigation and was the chair of the antitrust & trade regulation practice group at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP before becoming a judge.

Among the high-profile cases she's handled on the bench is the challenge to the Allegheny County drink and car rental tax. She ruled that the excess revenue must go only to the Port Authority.

• Paula A. Patrick, Democratic ticket, recommended. She graduated from Thurgood Marshall law school in Houston and lives in the Overbrook Farms section of Philadelphia.

Elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas six years ago, Judge Patrick, 41, spent 10 years before that in her own private, general litigation firm.

During that time, she handled personal injury, worker's compensation, criminal defense work and family law.

• Templeton Smith Jr., Republican ticket, recommended, and endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Mr. Smith went to the University of Pittsburgh school of law and lives in Mt. Lebanon.

Throughout his 31-year legal career, Mr. Smith has spent a large amount of time practicing appellate law. His work has focused primarily on the civil side, including medical malpractice appeals, products liability, zoning and commercial tax appeals.

He is a shareholder in the lawfirm, Thomson, Rhodes & Cowie, P.C.

• John Milton Younge, Democratic ticket, recommended, and endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

He graduated from Howard University school of law and lives in Wynnefield, a part of Philadelphia.

Elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas 14 years ago, Judge Younge previously worked for the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia and ultimately served as deputy executive director and general counsel.

Judge Younge, 53, previously ran unsuccessfully for Superior Court in 2007.

There are also two judges currently serving on the Superior Court who are up for a 10-year retention vote.

They include Kate Ford Elliott, who was first elected to the court in 1989 and Judge Maureen Lally-Green, who was elected in 1999.


Correction/Clarification: (Published May 13, 2009) Kevin McCarthy, a candidate for Superior Court, has argued approximately 150 cases before that court during his 18-year career. An incorrect number was used in this candidate preview as originally published May 5, 2009.

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


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