HARRISBURG – In the midst of a wide range of local elections, voters will pick two new judges for the state Superior Court on Tuesday. The court is the first stop for appeals in civil and criminal cases filed from county Courts of Common Pleas.

The candidates include two Democrats – Andrea Green-Hawkins and Dan McCaffery – and two Republicans – Christylee Peck and Megan McCarthy King.

Green-Hawkins is an attorney for the United Steelworkers and a former Allegheny County councilwoman. McCaffery has been a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 2013.

Peck is a Cumberland County judge, elected to the bench in 2011. King is deputy direct attorney in Chester County.

There are 15 Superior Court judges. They are paid $199,114 a year, according to the Pennsylvania Bulletin. They are elected to 10-year terms.

The Superior Court handled 7,623 appeals in 2018, including 4,714 in criminal cases and 2,909 civil cases.

The Republican nominees say they would use their positions on the bench to focus on the traditional role of the courts, said Vonne Andring, senior adviser to the state GOP.

“We back Christylee Peck and Megan McCarthy Peck because we know they understand the role of a judge has nothing whatsoever to do with making laws, but everything to do with interpreting them,” Andring said. “Our candidates understand that only in this way can everyone — no matter who they are — get a fair shake.”

Tthe Democratic Party’s nominees would use their positions to protect the interests of citizens if they are undermined by lawmakers, said Brendan Welch, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

"With the rights of hardworking Pennsylvanians under attack from Washington and Harrisburg Republicans, Judge McCaffery and Amanda Green-Hawkins will fight every day for workers, women, and equal justice under the law,” he said. “Their devotion to a more fair and just commonwealth is needed now more than ever."

Retention elections

In addition to the two seats up for election, two Superior Court judges – Anne Lazarus and Judy Olson – are facing the voters in a retention vote. 

After their initial election, Pennsylvania law allows judges to avoid facing re-election challengers by standing in retention elections, in which voters are merely asked whether the sitting judge should be retained in office, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ description of the judicial election process.

Lazarus is a Democrat first elected in 2009. Olson is a Republican who was also elected in 2009.

Two Commonwealth Court judges are also facing retention votes – Kevin Brobson, a Republican originally elected in 2009 and Patricia McCullough, a Republican also elected in 2009.

The Commonwealth Court hears appeals of cases involving state agencies. There are nine judges on the Commonwealth Court. Like their counterparts on the Superior Court, they are paid $199,114 a year.

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