Judicial Vote 2021
Pennsylvania’s primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Allegheny County voters will be asked to choose candidates for the following judicial positions: One Pa. Supreme Court justice; one Pa. Superior Court judge; two Pa. Commonwealth Court judges; and nine judges on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
The Allegheny County Bar Association Judicial Excellence Committee recognizes that citizens want to be educated about judicial candidates, so they can make informed decisions when voting. The Committee also recognizes that many citizens are not in a position to know if a particular candidate is qualified to be a judge.
Comprised of attorneys who routinely practice before judges, the ACBA Judiciary Committee – made up of 24 ACBA members, elected by their fellow bar association members – are in a position to offer evaluations of those candidates, and proudly share those evaluations with the public.
To view the 2021 Judicial Candidate ratings, click here.
The JudicialVote21 website and the information contained in this site is presented by the Judicial Excellence Committee (PAC) of the Allegheny County Bar Association.
TYPES OF JUDICIAL ELECTIONS IN PA
In Pennsylvania, there are two ways state and county judges are elected/re-elected: judicial elections, when candidates seek to be elected to a judicial position for the first time, and merit retention elections, when sitting judges seek to be re-elected a/k/a “retained.” Note that this applies to state and county-level judges – such as the Pa. Supreme Court, Pa. Commonwealth Court, Pa. Superior Court and local district courts, such as the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas – as part of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania. Federal Judges are appointed, and not elected as part of Pennsylvania’s election process. For more on judicial elections in Pa., visit the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website here.
Judicial elections are for when judges are running for a seat on the bench for the first time, or when a judge is seeking a seat on the bench of a higher court. These are held during the primary election – typically the third Tuesday of May – every-other year, and the candidates are generally elected for 10-year terms. In 2021, election day falls on Tuesday, May 18.
The Allegheny County Bar Association Judiciary Committee – comprised of 24 ACBA members, elected by their fellow bar association members – has interviewed and rated candidates who are running for the Pa. Supreme Court, the Pa. Commonwealth Court and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. These ratings are only for candidates who live in Allegheny County, have their principal place of business in Allegheny County or are judges of a court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and whose judicial offices are located in Allegheny County.
MERIT RETENTION ELECTIONS
Merit retention elections are for current, sitting judges who are seeking to be re-elected – or retained – at the end of their 10-year terms. These judges are seeking another 10-year term, and they are not running against anyone. Rather, voters are being asked – via a “yes” or “no” referendum – whether these judges should remain on the bench based on their performance, qualifications and merit. In Pennsylvania, retention elections are held every-other year during the general election, typically the first Tuesday in November. The 2021 retention election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
The ACBA Judicial Excellence Committee provides evaluations for those judges seeking retention in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, as well as Allegheny County-based judges seeking retention in the Pa. Commonwealth Court, Pa. Superior Court and Pa. Supreme Court. More information about this election and the judges running for retention will be available in September 2021.