Monday, May 4, 2009


UPDATE: A helpful commenter provided more info to one of the jurists; if you're interested, also read the comments.

The local primaries in Allegheny county, PA are coming up on May 19th, and the most confusing race is the one for the Court of Common Pleas. It's confusing because there are 15 candidates running for 5 primary spots, and there's a lot of info to digest.

The Post-Gazette has some information about a selection of the candidates here:

The candidates' respective websites can be found at the above link as well, if you're interested.

I am generally cool with the Bar Association recommendations, a complete list of which can be found here:

There's four levels of Bar recommendation: Highly recommended, just plain old recommended, not recommended at this time, and unqualified. Dude, if the Bar Assoc. tells you that someone's not qualified to be a judge, I tend to acknowledge that. More on that later.

Now, given these sources of information, here's my somewhat informed opinion of the candidates:

My personal favorite is Judge Joe Williams. He's HIGHLY recommended by the Bar and also the Democratic Party, and he has a long and diverse history as a as a lawyer, judge, and all around swell guy. Also, for those of you who are all about diversity n'at, check out his page. He plays it down, but he is married to Darryl Ford Williams. He's been endorsed by the Stonewall Dems, too! Plus he has a psych degree. Squee! I didn't know it was possible to be a fangirl for a Judge on the Court of Common Pleas...

Some others I like:

Leah Williams-Duncan, because of her record as a public defender, especially her work in the family courts. She's represented both parents and children, and she's recommended by the Bar.

Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough, because... well, just look at his resume, especially the representative cases. Upholding public employee retirement benefits, and working pro bono for the Bethlehem Women's Shelter? Yeah, yeah, I'm all over that. Plus, HIGHLY recommended by the Bar.

EDIT: Phil Ignelzi ( is likely to be a good dude, once the Assistant US Attorney who was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and highly recommended by the bar. He spent some time defending white collar criminals, which makes me go ehhhh, but it's well-balanced by his efforts working to help victims of medical malpractice.

Arnie Klein, but this one's more iffy because my liking of him comes from the Post-Gazette blurb about him but not his own website. He has experience in family, orphans', and elder-law cases (as well as civil and criminal), and was a public defender... but his own damn site has very little of substance to it.

You can see my biases there. I'd like to have judges on the bench who are compassionate to those who deserve and need it (retirees, battered women, orphans, poverty-stricken, etc) and throw the book at people who would prey upon them.

I am more or less indifferent to Michael Marmo (, recommended by the Bar, who is already a special master for the common pleas court who hears neighborhood law cases, things like eminent domain and tax appeals.

A couple candidates don't look too bad, but don't have very much meaningful information on their websites. Like Alex Bicket (, who was highly recommended by the Bar but has nothing but platitudes on his site. Or Susan DiLucente (, who's been involved with many areas of the law, but I have no idea about what side of the law she came down on.

Another couple candidates seem like great lawyers, but they take stances that I'm kinda meh about. Like Phil Ignelzi (, who was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and highly recommended by the bar but spent a lot of his time defending white collar criminals. Or Mike Sherman ( who both fought tobacco companies - cool, I guess - and represented the state police for 8 years - meh... and his whole site is a black/gold stump speech with a donation form at the bottom.

Carolyn Bengel, Jeff Eisenberg, Don Walko, and Michelle Peck were all not recommended at this time by the Bar Association. Since there are 15 freaking candidates, I think we can safely rule these guys out. (Unless you have some particular reason for liking one of them, in which case comment away and let me know!)

Both Joe Luvara and Jenifer Satler were deemed unqualified by the Bar Assoc., so... yeah.

My final ticket will probably look something like this: Joe Williams, Leah Williams-Duncan, Hugh McGough, Arnie Klein Phil Ignelzi, and Susan DiLucente. What about yours?

And if I missed someone, I'm very very sorry, and feel free to point it out. I'll remind you again: 15 candidates! Intensity!


  1. I agree with most of your choices...except I like Ignelzi. He spent a lot of his career doing medical malpractice work (representing the people who were hurt), and he is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney. I've never met him, but he seems like a pretty impressive person who would make a good judge.

  2. My top 3 are: Williams (YEAH!), DiLucente and Ignelzi. I'm still up in the air over everyone else.

  3. Thanks for that! I noticed that on his site, but wasn't sure which side of the medical malpractice thing he was on (docs or patients) so didn't use it in my factoring. He is generally highly regarded, it seems.

  4. Thanks for responding to my post! I'm with you on Judge Joe Williams. He's absolutely fantastic and a definite asset to the bench. I'm sure he'll be re-elected.

    I'd consider voting for Ignelzi. Although he did white collar defense (which I don't love either), I still think he's a smart pick for judge.

    I was at a fundraiser for Judge Joe where he spoke very highly of I figure, if he's good with Judge Joe, he's good with me!

  5. Muse-

    Saw you changed your election picks. You're awesome because you're willing to listen to your fans!


  6. Do not vote for Leah Williams Duncan. For 4 years she has been refusing rights of men and their children rewarding woman who abandon their children to live a Lesbian lifestyle. She has also refused child care for those children. She has been taking away funds for the childs care to forward her Gay agenda. Pittsburgh does not need a judge that refuses the rights of children and punish the morally correct and reward immoral lifestyles. She was a single parent trying to raise her children but refuse to make woman pay for their infidelity. She keeps imposing her immoral views from the bench instead of enforcing the laws as she is supposed to. I also watched as she laughed when she found out that the woman she was rewarding was commiting Federal Tax Fraud for 6 years.
    Leah Willaims Duncan is not the type of judge Pittsburgh needs.

  7. Lol Ronald: Do you even read this blog? I'm a feminist, a bisexual, and an ally to the oppressed. From what you describe, Duncan is *exactly* the kind of judge I want elected. So thank you for confirming my original recommendation! :P

  8. Also, Ronald, you might want to back yourself up with some links or something. Evidence is kinda important to me. If she made unjust rulings, I'd like to know. If she just allowed lesbian mothers custody of their children and/or alimony after a divorce or separation, that's not a problem for me.

  9. Muse142 I figured you would like her as your choice that is why I wrote this on your blog Leah is for people like you that refuse Children their rights to impose your sexual preferences upon them.
    I have custody of my son not her due to her mental illness. Hearing officers like Leah Williams-Duncan felt that she should be rewarded for abandoning her son, her family, and she was a Catholic Christian mother when she abandoned her faith. Through all this she has also bankrupted her own mother and two more like you. I would like to see you vote for her so she will allow my ex-wife to bankrupt more like you. In doing what Leah Williams-Duncan has done for her over the years she has alienated my son from his mother. (I requested the visitation his mother didn't want any) Leah has put more woman and their children on welfare that I took care of bankrupting the state. Her immoral judgements have always produced the opposite results. I leave it up to you to decide is this the kind of judge you want? You may not get what you like. Just look at her profile on Facebook.

  10. How can you say, "For 4 years she has been refusing rights of men and their children rewarding woman who abandon their children to live a Lesbian lifestyle"? She isn't a judge yet! How can she refuse the rights of men while simultaneously rewarding women. That doesn't make any sense!

  11. Anonymous She has been a hearing officer for many years in Family Division of Allegheny County. Take away the rights of Men to insure that Gay woman don't have to pay child support. But look at her profile on Facebook. If you are gay or straight with my info or her own profile would you vote for her to be a judge? It's your choice. Anonymous why don't you look at Leah's profile and look at what I'm saying which way would you vote. I'm just showing you that she is hypocrite. Either way I don't live in Allegheny County any more to many hypocrites there. I moved to Central PA. where the real thieves are in Harrisburg.

  12. Ronald: I responded to your silly comments at

    Just so you don't think I have nothing to say about your ridiculousness.