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A dozen candidates — six Democrats and six Republicans — are competing in the May 19 primary for nominations for an unprecedented three vacant seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The top vote-getters in each party will square off in the Nov. 3 general election.
Seven of the candidates currently hold statewide judgeships, four are county judges and one is a district attorney. Six candidates are male and six are female. They range in age from 48 to 68.
All of them were evaluated by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Commission and assigned one of three ratings: highly recommended, recommended or not recommended.
Brief sketches of the candidates follow:
By the time Donohue was elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2007, she had 27 years' experience as a trial lawyer and litigator for some of Pittsburgh's top law firms.
The Pittsburgh resident, the daughter of a coal miner and seamstress, is proud of her union roots in northeastern Pennsylvania.
She graduated from Duquesne University Law School and, as a judge on the state's main mid-level appellate court, has issued written decisions in more than 2,000 cases over the past seven years.
Donohue, 62, was rated "highly recommended" by the state bar panel.
As of Monday, her campaign had raised $339,000.
Dougherty, the judge who supervises the trial division of Philadelphia's sprawling court system, has spent most of his 14-year career dealing with troubled juveniles and families in the family division.
Dougherty received help getting on the Philadelphia bench from Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican who appointed him to fill a vacancy in 2001. Dougherty won the first of two 10-year terms later that year.
Dougherty, 54, is endorsed by the Democratic State Committee. His fundraising leads the fields in both parties, totaling $1.2 million through Monday. Much of the money came from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Philadelphia local, of which his politically connected brother is the business manager.
A 1988 graduate of Antioch Law School in Washington, he received a state bar panel rating of "recommended." Dougherty lives in northeast Philadelphia.
Foradora is the president judge of Jefferson County Court. He is also the county's only judge.
At 48, Foradora is one of the youngest candidates for state Supreme Court, but he combined strong fundraising with $100,000 of his own money to push his total to $534,000 as of Monday.
The Dubois native has spent most of his life in rural north-central Pennsylvania. He worked as a private lawyer and assistant public defender before he was elected as Jefferson County's first Democratic judge in 2001. Voters retained him in 2011 for another 10-year term.
Foradora holds a law degree from Notre Dame Law School. His state bar panel rating: "recommended."
A Superior Court judge, Lazarus has lost only one judicial race in her career and she still remembers the sting of that razor-thin defeat.
"I ran in the 2007 judicial election for Superior Court and lost in the primary by ½ of 1 percent of the vote statewide," she said in a questionnaire from the state bar panel which rated her "highly recommended" for state Supreme Court.
Two years later, Lazarus was elected to the Superior Court. She previously served as a Philadelphia judge from 1991 to 2010 and spent nine years in private practice. She's a member and former chairwoman of the state Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates and prosecutes cases of judicial misconduct.
Lazarus, 62, holds a law degree and a master's degree from Temple University Law School. Her campaign raised $443,000 through Monday.
Wecht has a lot going for him in his campaign for state Supreme Court — appellate court experience, a law degree from Yale, the endorsement of the Democratic State Committee, and a campaign fundraising operation that took in $858,000 as of Monday.
Wecht, 52, the son of Allegheny County's nationally prominent former medical examiner Cyril Wecht, began his career in public service as the county's elected register of wills and clerk of orphans' court from 1998 to 2003. He served as a county judge for nine years before his election to Superior Court in 2011.
The state bar panel rated Wecht as "highly recommended."
Woodruff is a former professional athlete.
He was a cornerback for the Steelers from 1979 to 1990 and played in Super Bowl XIV. But he also enrolled in evening classes at Duquesne University Law School, earning a law degree in 1988 that allowed him to remain a player while also practicing law with a Pittsburgh firm until he left the team.
Woodruff, 58, has been an Allegheny County judge since 2005.
He received a "recommended" rating from the state bar panel, but has struggled to raise money and reported $68,000 in contributions as of Monday.
Allen is hoping the third time will be the charm in her quest for Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Allen, a judge on the state's main intermediate appellate court, was twice a runner-up in primary races for the state's highest court — as a Democrat in 2003 and, after switching parties, as a Republican in 2009.
Before she was elected to Superior Court in 2008, she served as an Allegheny County judge for 18 years. Prior to that, she was an assistant county solicitor and an elementary school teacher.
Allen, 67, a Pittsburgh native who holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, calls politics the greatest impediment to justice in the state courts. Her campaign had raised $35,000 through Monday.
The state bar panel gave her a "highly recommended" rating.
Covey, a state Commonwealth Court judge, is endorsed by the Republican State Committee for a promotion to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but the state bar panel gave her a rating of "not recommended."
Covey's public profile was elevated by her handling of a lawsuit stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal at Penn State that was settled after the NCAA agreed in January to abandon the last of the sanctions it had imposed on the university.
The GOP leaders endorsed Covey on Jan. 31. Ten days later, the bar panel issued its unfavorable rating, saying that during her 2011 campaign for her present post she violated a pledge not to run misleading ads. She publicly criticized the action, but the panel stood by its decision.
The 55-year-old Bucks County resident, whose campaign had raised $194,000 as of Monday, previously spent 24 years in private practice and served nine years on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. Her law degree is from Widener University Law School.
An Adams County judge, George may lack the statewide stature of some of his competitors in the state Supreme Court race, but when the Republican State Committee handed out its three endorsements, he received the most votes.
George emerged as the top fundraiser among the GOP hopefuls in March. He disclosed a businessman friend's contribution of $500,000 that gave him a war chest more than four times bigger than the combined contributions to the other five candidates.
George, 56, who holds a law degree from Dickinson Law School, has been a judge since 2002. He previously served as Adams County district attorney for five years and was in private law practice for 11 years before that. He received a "recommended" rating from the bar panel.
Some fellow Republicans jokingly nicknamed the Superior Court judge "Judge Judy," after the wisecracking jurist in the popular TV show, but that overlooks Olson's career as a private lawyer who specialized in complex commercial litigation.
Olson, whose bid for state Supreme Court earned a "highly recommended" rating from the bar panel and the endorsement of the GOP state committee, spent 24 years working for a succession of three Pittsburgh law firms.
In 2008, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell appointed her to fill a temporary vacancy on the Allegheny County Court. She was elected to the appellate bench in 2009.
Olson, 57, holds a law degree from Duquesne University Law School.
Her campaign committee reported $119,000 in contributions through Monday.
Over four decades, Correale Stevens has been a public defender, a city solicitor, a state representative, a district attorney, a county judge and an appellate judge.
The Luzerne County resident currently serves on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, to which he was appointed in 2013. He is the only incumbent justice running for the state's highest court. The state bar panel has awarded him a "highly recommended" rating.
But the state constitution requires Pennsylvania judges to retire by the end of the year in which they turn 70.
Stevens will turn 69 this year. If he wins a 10-year term, he could serve only one year. Even if a pending constitutional amendment increasing the mandatory retirement age to 75 is approved by the Legislature and the voters, as Stevens hopes, he could serve only six years.
Stevens, who raised $124,000 through Monday, has a law degree from Dickinson Law School.
Rebecca Warren is the non-judge candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Warren is winding up a four-year term as Montour County's district attorney. She previously served as an assistant district attorney for two years and spent 10 years in private practice, but lacks judicial experience.
The state bar panel gave Warren a "not recommended" rating for the state's highest court, citing concerns about her appellate-level experience and her temperament.
Warren, 48, has a law degree from Dickinson School of Law. Her campaign had raised less than $15,000 as of Monday.
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