Bar association criticizes judicial candidate over ad

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A Pennsylvania Bar Association panel has criticized a negative ad aired by GOP Superior Court candidate Victor Stabile, while calling on him to take the ad off the air.

The ad criticizes the Democratic nominee, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Jack McVay, accusing him of nepotism in court hirings. The PBA’s Judicial Campaign Advertising Committee issued a news release Friday stating that the ad violates a pledge both candidates made to refrain from negative attacks. The panel said it had asked the Stabile campaign to discontinue the ad but that it continues to run.

“Judicial campaigns are different from other political campaigns,” Richard M. Goldberg, the panel’s chairman, said in the PBA announcement. “Candidates running for judgeships must abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits candidates from making false or misleading statements about themselves or their opponents.”

“After he became a judge, he got his girlfriend a job,’’ the Stabile ad charges. “Then his sister-in-law got a job. And now Jack McVay wants you to give him a promotion.”

Judge McVay’s sister-in-law is his secretary in Family Court. His fiancee was hired for another court position, tipstaff. Judge McVay acknowledges recommending her for the post, but another judge insisted Friday that Judge McVay did not control the actual hiring decision.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, administrative judge in the criminal division, said he was the one responsible for hiring the woman, Janine Palmer.

There were seven candidates for the clerk position, and Judge Manning said he used a hiring committee made up of court administrators to make the decision.

“She ran away with it. She was overwhelmingly qualified,” he said. “That’s why she was hired.”

No one on the committee, Judge Manning said, was made aware that Ms. Palmer had a relationship with Judge McVay.

“He never once spoke to me that she was applying for a job. It incenses me that a candidate for our judicial system would blatantly lie like that,” Judge Manning said.

Responding to the PBA announcement, Mr. Stabile said: “I stand by my ad. Judges should not hire their relatives or cause others to hire their relatives.”

James O'Toole:

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