Pa. Judicial Candidates Disclose 'Secrets'

By Erdley, Debra | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2007 | Go to article overview

Pa. Judicial Candidates Disclose 'Secrets'


Erdley, Debra, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Flunked out of law school? Had trouble with a debt collector? Tangled in a nasty divorce? Got a resume fit for a courtroom sitcom? Operatic aspirations?

Candidates for Pennsylvania's statewide appellate courts hold back little from the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Commission. Now their answers are out there for the world to see on the association's Web site.

Although the evaluation commission's ratings -- ranging from the coveted "highly recommended" to the dreaded "not recommended" -- have been posted online since 2001, this is the first year the questionnaires have been posted.

Philadelphia Judge Willis West Berry Jr. confesses he flunked out of law school while working days and attending class at night. Berry, who is seeking nomination to the Supreme Court, quit his day job, buckled down and got his law degree. It's an important part of his story, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I think diversity means more than just color. It means coming from a different part of town, from a different side of the track maybe a person who has come a different way from a different direction and happens to be in the same place you are," Berry said.

Allegheny County Judge Ronald Folino, who wants to be a Superior Court judge, says he gave up a career as a stand-up comedian in New York City to return to Pittsburgh and study law. That always overshadows the line in his resume that says Penn State University, magna cum laude, Folino said.

Greensburg attorney Timothy McCormick , who is seeking nomination to the Superior Court, confides that his wife says he needs "to become a better listener."

And Philadelphia Judge John Milton Younge, who wants to be a Superior Court judge, concedes on his questionnaire that a Massachusetts debt collection firm sued him over student loan repayment in the 1980s.

But when contacted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he said there was never a lawsuit, just a telephone threat, and that he never fell behind on his loans. …

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