Mar 15 2012

Report on the 2012 House Judiciary Committee Hearing

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On March 1, 2012, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Merit Selection of appellate court judges. The hearing focused on two pieces of legislation, House Bill 1815, which would amend the constitution to implement a Merit Selection system for the three state-wide appellate courts; and House Bill 1816, which is implementing legislation providing details of how the new system, including the nominating commission that would screen and evaluate candidates for recommendation to the Governor, would work. Committee Chairman Ron Marsico (R, Dauphin) called the hearing, and Rep. Glen Grell (R, Cumberland) presided.

The hearing opened with a presentation by prime sponsor Rep. Bryan Cutler (R, Lancaster). Testifying in favor of the bill were representatives of PMC and PMCAction, the Delaware Valley Corporate Counsel Association, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, Justice at Stake, the League of Women Voters, the Pennsylvanian Manufacturers’ Association, the Urban League, lawyer Walter M. Phillips, Jr., and Bishop Mary Palmer on behalf of the Philadelphia Council of Clergy. Testifying in opposition was Professor Randy Lee of Widener Law School. Testimony submitted by these presenters may be found here.

Many other groups and individuals also submitted written testimony in support of Merit Selection, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Air Products, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, and Karen Bojar, Democratic Committee person. Written testimony in opposition was submitted by the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, Professor Marina Angel of Temple Law School, and Professor Michael Dimino of Widener Law School. These written submissions may be found here.

The hearing was the first step in the long process of amending the Constitution, a process which culminates in a public referendum on whether to change the way we choose appellate court judges. We hope the legislature will move the bills forward so that the people of Pennsylvania will get the chance to make this important decision.

If you would like to contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee about the legislation or Merit Selection in general, they are:

Majority (Room 218 ROB)

Minority (Room 106 IOB)
Marsico, Ron , Chair, 218 Ryan
Stephens, Todd , Secretary, 4A EW
Cutler, Bryan, Subcommittee Chair on Family Law, 147A EW
Grell, Glen R., Subcommittee Chair on Courts, 3 EW
Krieger, Timothy, Subcommittee Chair on Crime and Corrections, B14 MCB
Caltagirone, Thomas R. , Democratic Chair, 106 Irvis
Kula, Deberah , Democratic Secretary, G05 Irvis
Bradford, Matthew D., Subcommittee Democratic Chair on Crime and Corrections, 117B EW
White, Jesse, Subcommittee Democratic Chair on Family Law, 112 Irvis
Creighton, Tom C., 416 Irvis
Delozier, Sheryl M., 159B EW
Ellis, Brian L., 157 EW
Gillespie, Keith, 45 EW
Keller, Mark K., 5 EW
O’Neill, Bernie, 47 EW
Rock, Todd, 162A EW
Saccone, Rick, 6B EW
Toepel, Marcy, 405 Irvis
Toohil, Tarah, 409 Irvis
Brennan, Joseph F., 25A EW
Costa, Dom. G14 Irvis
DePasquale, Eugene, 116A EW
Neuman, Brandon P., 224 Irvis
Sabatina, John P., Jr., 120 Irvis
Waters, Ronald G., 328 Irvis

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