There are 39 candidates for 9 openings on the Court of Common Pleas. That is a lot of people to wade through, research, and figure out whom to support.
Judges matter. They make life-defining decisions for children, youth, and adults. They help to shape the courtroom culture. They shape culture, period.
This is one type of analysis, considering the Allegheny County Bar Association rating as a measure of competency AND using three indicators of LGBTQIA+ cultural competency – the endorsements of Steel City Stonewall and the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Political Club. Finally, I indicate if the candidate requested my own Q&A (not an endorsement) and if they returned it.
Public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system can only be achieved when those participating see that all human experiences, including their own, are reflected in the decision makers. – Lisa Middleman
The Bar Association recommendation is important. I’d rather have a highly recommended candidate than someone considered unqualified but perhaps sympathetic to my political views any day of the week. That could be the fact that my wife is a lawyer. In various situations, we’ve both ended up in front of judges who were clearly not competent and it is truly frightening situation because there is no other political office to balance things out as in a legislative body.
Here are the assorted recommendations via the Allegheny County Bar Association
A. Exhibits pre-eminence in the law by way of outstanding legal ability and a wide range of experience, either in a specialized field of law or a more varied practice, and has a reputation in the legal community as standing at the top of his or her profession.
B. Possesses a reputation for the utmost integrity and temperament to excel as a judge of the court for which he/she is a candidate.
C. Exhibits outstanding citizenship by way of community and professional contributions.
D. Is an exceptional individual who will enhance or has enhanced the competence, dignity and public perception of the bench.
The candidate possesses a reputation for the utmost integrity and the legal ability, experience, and temperament to excel as a judge of the court for which he or she is a candidate.
Not Recommended At This Time
The candidates legal ability, experience and reputation indicate that, at some future time in his or her legal career, he or she may have the potential to excel as a judge, but the candidate is not yet at that stage.
The candidate does not now possess and is not likely to acquire the ability, reputation or temperament necessary for a judicial position.
Clearly, there is more to consider when selecting judges. But this is one way to put a slice of that selection criteria all together that gives you a glimpse into their LGBTQIA+ cultural competency. I urge you to read the Q&A’s to learn more about these folks.
Learning more about their judicial views on LGBTQIA+ issues and community members is an important indicator beyond judicial temperament. Judges can have opinions. All judges have bias because they are human beings and that is not something that can just be summed up as temperament. Historically, it has been white cisgender heterosexual men deciding under guise of law that centers white cisgender heterosexual men. OMG, so many things to consider. I’m not even being facetious. Just honest that it is essential you do your homework because they folks will shape the lives of your family and neighbors for generations to come.
Also, in my Q&A’s you’ll see some great ideas on how to improve the court systems. Not my idea, just my questions.
These candidates received a recommendation from the bar association, at least one endorsement, and completed my Q&A.
This candidate received a recommendation from the bar association, completed by Q&A, but did not secure either endorsement.
This candidate received a recommendation from the bar association, secured at least one endorsement, but did not express interest in completing the Q&A for this blog.
- Bruce Beemer
This candidate received a recommendation from the bar association, requested the Q&A from my blog, but have not yet returned it. They also have at least one endorsement. I remain optimistic.
- Elliot Howsie
This candidate received a recommendation from the bar association requested the Q&A from my blog, but has not returned it. They have not been endorsed by either org.
- Wrenna Watson
Five other candidates come highly recommended, but had neither endorsement nor completed my Q&A.
- Tom Caulfield
- Rosemary Crawford
- Anthony DeLuca
- George Heym
- Daniel Konieczka
- Andy Szefi
So these six folks have the capacity to be good judges, but there’s that question of why they didn’t seek or receive these endorsements or a Q&A? Perhaps they know that given our relatively small population in this region, our support is not needed and our priorities do not need to be addresses publicly.
Eight other candidates were ranked Recommended and had no endorsements. Does the distinction between Highly and Recommended matter?
Two candidates are deemed unqualified. Please don’t vote for them, famous family ties or not. The last thing we need are two more incompetent white cis het men on the bench, especially when we have so many fabulous options.
One thing I’ve learned with my own Q&A series is how most campaigns have it backwards – they think they are doing ME a favor by filling out the Q&A, that it is my responsibility to chase after them, or that it is fine to just not follow through. A campaign director recently admonished me for not making the Q&A information more available. I told her it was up on my blog on February 28 and anyone who subscribes to the blog would get that information. Or they could keep an eye out for it at that time of year.
How much work should we do to document the LGBTQ competency? Should I camp out at campaign HQs and plead? Should I make a donation to every single campaign to get a Q&A (nope)? In fact, I did make a donation to a non-judicial candidate who promised to complete the Q&A and guilt tripped me with the need to support their unique campaign. I was so pissed when they backed out. I will never make that mistake again. They don’t owe me anything, but they do owe you their time and attention.
Now I noticed that Giuseppe Rosselli showed up at a trans rights rally last weekend. That caught my eye. Perhaps others were there as well, but I didn’t notice them in the media coverage.
Finally, let me point out or remind you that Tiffany Sizemore is an openly bisexual Black woman. She’s recommended, endorsed, Q&A’d, and part of several progressive pairings. Does that alone give you cause to vote for her? Can you recall a time when other judicial candidates were openly anything?
Presently, on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, only 30% of judges are women; only four judges are people of color; only one judge is a woman of color and only two judges openly identify at LGBTQ. With nine open seats, we are at a moment in time where we can change how the bench looks and absolutely need to make our court more inclusive. It is one of the first steps to addressing implicit bias on the bench. It is also important because we need to re-establish our community’s trust in the court system and that is only possible if people coming before the court believe that there are judges on the bench who can identify with their authentic experiences, cultural practices and belief systems. – Sabrina Korbel
So I’ve got my nine in mind, how about you?
|Candidate||Allegheny County Bar Association rating||Steel City Stonewall Endorsement||Gertrude Stein Endorsement||Requested PghLesbian Political Q&A||Completed PghLesbian Q&A|
|Bruce Beemer||Highly Recommended||Endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Dean Birdy||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
Not Recommended at this time
|Tom Caulfield||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|William Caye||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Jason J. Cervone||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Jessel Costa||Unqualified||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Alyssa Cowan||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||Yes||Yes|
|Rosemary Crawford||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||no||N/a|
|Marc Daffner||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||N/a|
|Anthony DeLuca||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Richard Thomas Ernsberger||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Brian Flaherty||Unqualified||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Ryan O. Hemminger||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Nicola Henry Taylor||Highly Recommended||Endorsed||Endorsed||No||n/a|
|George Heym||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Rick Hosking||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Elliot Howsie||Highly Recommended||Endorsed||Not endorsed||Yes|
Not yet to personal circumstances
|Clint Kelley||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Daniel Konieczka||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||N/a|
|Sabrina Korbel||Highly Recommended||Endorsed||Endorsed||Yes||Yes|
|Brian Samuel Malkin||Recommended||Endorsed||Endorsed||No||n/a|
|Joseph Patrick Murphy||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/c|
|Mik Pappas||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Endorsed||No||n/a|
|Chuck Porter||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Zeke Rediker||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Matt Rogers||Recommended||Endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Giuseppe Rosselli||Recommended||Not endorsed||Endorsed||Yes||Not yet|
|Jimmy Sheets||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Beth Tarasi Sinatra||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Tiffany Sizemore||Recommended||Endorsed||Not endorsed||Yes||Yes|
|Patrick Sweeney||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Andy Szefi||Highly Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Albert Veverka||Not Recommended at this time||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||No||n/a|
|Chelsa Wagner||Not Recommended at this time||Endorsed||Endorsed||No||n/a|
|Wrenna Watson||Recommended||Not endorsed||Not endorsed||Yes||Not yet|
Ilan Zur Recommended Not endorsed Not endorsed No n/a
I suggest you also look at
- Pgh City Paper Judicial Voting Guide
- Public Source Voting Guide
- Slate of 8
- Vote 411 (League of Women Voters)
This might feel overwhelming, but it is essential – consider that in Pennsylvania, every single right the LGBTQ community has came through the courts.
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