Four Candidates Pursuing Pair of Statewide Appeals-Court Posts

By BobKerlik | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Four Candidates Pursuing Pair of Statewide Appeals-Court Posts


BobKerlik, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Four candidates are vying for two slots on the state's intermediate appeals courts, races that typically make few waves for a statewide office.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Wecht, 49, a Democrat, is running against Republican candidate Vic Stabile, 54, a Cumberland County attorney, for a seat on the Superior Court.

Anne Covey, 51, a Bucks County lawyer, has the Republican nod in the race for a seat on the Commonwealth Court against Democrat Kathryn Boockvar, 43, also a Bucks County lawyer.

Typically, races for the statewide appellate courts take a back seat to others, such as the race for Allegheny County Executive, said University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff.

"These races aren't sexy. People don't think about judges until a judge does something they don't like. If it's not the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, people tend to go to sleep," Burkoff said. "But intermediate appellate courts are important -- they correct errors. Criminal and civil trials are not perfect."

The judges serve a 10-year term; their salary for this year is $178,914.

All four candidates touted their experience in their bid to win the Nov. 8 election.

Wecht of Indiana Township is a judge in the civil division of the county Common Pleas Court. He is the son of former county Coroner Cyril Wecht. He graduated from Yale Law School and clerked in the Washington, D.C., circuit federal court of appeals. He previously worked at three law firms, including the Wecht law firm, and was elected in 1997 as the county register of wills.

Wecht was appointed to a vacancy on the bench in 2003 and elected in his own right later that year. Wecht said the Superior Court should make all of its decisions available online to the public. Typically, only opinions that set a precedent are posted.

"The court's work product should be transparent. The practice of deciding over 90 percent of cases largely by unpublished memorandum decisions cries out for reform," Wecht said. "I believe everything should be out there in the sunlight for people to read and ponder."

Wecht is rated "highly recommended" by the state bar association's Judicial Evaluation Commission, a group of lawyers and non-lawyers who investigate, interview and rate statewide judicial candidates.

Stabile of Carlisle is the managing partner of the Harrisburg office of the law firm Dilworth Paxson. He graduated from the Dickinson School of Law and clerked in the Commonwealth Court before taking a job in the state Attorney General's Office.

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