Corbett nominates Superior Court judge to fill Pa. Supreme Court vacancy

Also names nominees to Turnpike, LCB and PUC


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HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett said he will nominate the state's top Superior Court judge to fill the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seat vacated by Joan Orie Melvin after her conviction on public corruption charges.

A former Republican state representative, President Judge Correale F. Stevens has served since 1998 on the Superior Court, which hears appeals in criminal, civil and family cases. He has served as president judge since 2011.

If confirmed by the state Senate, he would serve until January 2016, with an election to permanently fill the seat in November 2015.

Mr. Corbett's office also said he will nominate former U.S. Rep. Tim Holden to the Liquor Control Board, former state senator and Monroeville mayor Sean Logan to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and Senate Democratic deputy chief counsel Gladys M. Brown to the Public Utility Commission.

With the Senate divided between 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats, both parties will need to contribute to the two-thirds majority required to confirm nominations for the Supreme Court and the liquor and turnpike boards. The Public Utility Commission nomination requires a majority vote.

In a promising sign for the Supreme Court nomination, Sen. Daylin Leach, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called the selection "a great victory for bipartisanship." Judge Stevens is one of five Republican judges Mr. Leach had said Democrats would help confirm.

"... I expect Judge Stevens' confirmation to be very smooth and without any impediments at all," said Mr. Leach, of Delaware County.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, applauded Mr. Corbett for the nominations and said Senate Democrats are "very comfortable" with Judge Stevens.

Response to the announcement -- if not the nominee -- was markedly different in the office of Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. His chief of staff, Drew Crompton, said Mr. Scarnati had believed conversations about the nominations were ongoing. He said Mr. Scarnati learned of the final decision from Senate Democrats.

"It seems as if the governor's office is assuming that the entire Republican caucus will support the package," Mr. Crompton said. "That's part of the frustration of Senator Scarnati. He doesn't know that."

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, "believes that Judge Stevens deserves, and will have, broad support in our caucus," said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Mr. Pileggi..

Kevin Harley, spokesman for Mr. Corbett, said Senate leaders from both parties were consulted and notified of the nominations.

"I'm sure the entire Senate will consider the qualifications of each of the nominees, and we're confident that when they do that, they'll receive overwhelming support," he said.

Judge Stevens said his priorities as president judge have included holding community court sessions and legal seminars as well as making decisions available online. He also said he considers the six current Supreme Court justices personal friends.

breaking - electionspa - state

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com.


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