Among the campaign signs along local roads you may have noticed some unfamiliar names. No, these are not leftovers from previous elections although some of the names are familiar. On May 17 Democrats and Republicans also will be choosing their party's candidates for one vacancy on each court.

The Democrats have only one candidate for Superior Court, David N. Wecht. He has been a Common Pleas judge in Allegheny Court since 2003 and received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Yale University.

The Republicans must choose between two, Victor P. Stabile or Paula A. Patrick:

Stabile received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Stonybrook and his J.D. from Dickinson School of Law. Since 1992 he has been a partner in the Harrisburg law firm of Dilworth Paxton LLP handling civil litigation. He has never run for an elective judicial office before but has been active in the Republican Party. He was the chairman of the Cumberland County Republicans from 2000 until he resigned earlier this year when he announced his candidacy.

Ms. Patrick has been a Common Pleas judge in Philadelphia since 2003. She received her B.A. from Bennett College and her J.D. from Texas Southern University. She ran for Superior Court on the Republican ticket in 2009.

Both parties have competitive races for Commonwealth Court. Paul P. Panepinto and Anne Covey are facing off in the Republican primary and Kathryn Boockvar and Barbara Behrend Ernsberger in the Democratic.

Panepinto has been a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 1990. He received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Villanova University. In 2007 and 2009 he ran for the Superior Court in the Democratic primaries.

Covey has been a member of the PA Labor Relations Board since 2002 and is the owner of the law firm Covey & Associates in Lambertville, N.J., which handles predominantly employment law cases. She received her B.A. from the University of Delaware and her J.D. from Widener University. She has never run for office before.

Boockvar owns the Boockvar Law Office in Doylestown. Her background is in civil litigation. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from American University. She has never run for a judicial office before.

Behrend Ernsberger is a partner in the firm of Behrend & Ernsberger P.C. in Pittsburgh. She received her B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and her J.D. from Duquesne University. She was a Democratic candidate for the Commonwealth Court in 2009 when the Pennsylvania Bar Association gave her a "Not Recommended" rating. She did not return her questionnaire for this election and is rated "Not Recommended" for that reason.

The responses of the other six candidates, the criteria used in the evaluations and the individual ratings are posted at www.pavotesmart.org.

The 15-judge Superior Court handles appeals of civil and criminal cases from the local Courts of Common Pleas and the nine-judge Commonwealth Court handles cases involving governments or government agencies.