Thursday, May 14, 2015

Candidates for Judge of Common Pleas Court

Here's more ballot information. For Common Pleas Court judges, all candidates are attorneys. I looked on their websites for specific trial experience, especially experience in Montco's Common Pleas Court. I also put where they're from if I could find it, not that it should really matter for this post. I included a link to their websites if you want to learn more. Just click on their names. Again, you can see your sample ballot at this link.

All candidates for this position are listed on both Republican and Democratic ballots. You'll choose three out of a field of six.

Rise Vetri Ferman - Montgomery County District Attorney since 2008. Born in Philadelphia. Grew up in Abington and still lives there. Worked as a prosecutor the last 22 years.

Dan Clifford - Trial lawyer. Family law litigator for more than 30 years. Appeared before Common Pleas judges in 13 counties (including each of the 20 judges on the Montgomery County bench) and on appeals before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Couldn't find where he lives.

Stephen Heckman - Chief Public Defender of Montgomery County for 4 years until 2012, Assistant Public Defender for 13 years before that. Currently a litigator in his own law firm. Lives in Upper Dublin.

Natasha Taylor-Smith - Trial attorney for almost 20 years. Currently representing the county in contract and real estate issues. Philadelphia native. Resident of Cheltenham.

Todd Eisenberg - Lives in Lower Moreland. Instructor of trial advocacy for Temple and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. Works in a voluntary capacity for the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project, representing children in PFA hearings, dependency matters and as a witness in criminal cases.

Gregory Cirillo - From Lower Merion. A lot of sentences on his Facebook bio, but "litigator of complex legal cases" and "court of Common Pleas arbitrator" were as specific as I could find. His website is one page saying he was working at launching a full website and nothing more so the link is for his Facebook page.

As with all other offices, you can write-in candidates. For this office, you can write-in up to three names.

UPDATE: About 15 minutes after I posted this, someone tried to pressure me to list each candidates personal party affiliation. If you want to know that or anything else about the candidates, feel free to click on the links to their websites and find it for yourselves if it's listed. However, it seems clear to me that I need to explain what a Common Pleas Court judge does. They are the first level of trial in criminal and civil cases (Magisterial Judges do hearings, not trials). They first and foremost work with lawyers and their clients to reach a settlement out of court. If cases go to trial, their job is to interpret the law at that level and explain it to the jurors who will decide the cases. Or some cases can be put before the judge without a jury. But their decisions can be reviewed in an appeal if they seem unfair to either side. These judges do NOT deal with changes to the constitution. They are NOT part of a voting body like Congress where party matters. What  you should be more concerned with is whether each candidate will be tougher or more lenient in their decisions (based on their past experience--ie, were they prosecutors or defenders), and which of those options you'd prefer.

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