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Goodman assured of judgeship; two others up for retention

Published November 03. 2011 05:01PM

A new judge is to be elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County and two current members of the court are seeking retention to another term in Tuesday's Municipal General Election. Polling places open at 7 a.m and close at 8 p.m.

The incumbent District Attorney James P. Goodman is the only candidate on the ballot running for the vacant seat on the county bench as he won the nomination of both the Republican and Democrat parties in last May's Primary Election. He defeated five county attorneys. Judge candidates are permitted to cross file in the primary election.

Unopposed, Goodman is expected to be elected judge and will have to resign from his current position as district attorney. He has two years remaining in his term which ends Dec. 31, 2012. Under the state election code his first deputy becomes the new district attorney.

Attorney Karen Byrnes-Noon is the current first deputy and will serve out the balance of Goodman's term. She also can appoint a first deputy.

Noon will become the first female district attorney of the county. Noon lost out for the vacant position of district magistrate for the Frackville-Ashland area in last May's primary election. She ran against seven other candidates.

She will be assuming a position of a higher level. Noon also joins two other women who hold number one positions in the county. Attorney Mary Ann Conway became the first woman to become a county commissioner a number of years ago and the current county Commissioner Mantura Gallagher became the first woman to become chairman of the board.

Seek retention

Associate Judges Cyrus Palmer Dolbin, 64, and Charles M. Miller, 62, will have their names on a separate ballot for voters to cast a "Yes" or "No" vote on whether they should serve another term on the county bench. The question is separate from the other ballot as judges are not to be affiliated with any political party. Both, however, first ran as Republicans.

Judicial retention is a system of retaining qualified judges on the basis of their performanceon the bench rather than any partisan, political consideration or special interest. The retention system was approved in 1968 by the voters of Pennsylvania with an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. In Pennsylvania, those who wish to serve as judges must first run for that office and be chosen by the voters just as any pubic official. But, once elected, they are expected to avoid political acitivity. The term is 10 years and once served he can seek retention if age permits.

Because of the mandatory age of 70 years for retirement of judges neither one will be able to complete his 10 year term.

Dolbin will have to retire in 2017 and Miller in 2019. Judge D. Michael Stine retired at the age of 63 last January, a year before his term expired, and it will be filled by Goodman. Stine became a senior judge and has served in Schuylkill and Carbon counties.

State contests

There are contests for seats on two state courts.

Attorney Vic Stable, Republican, chairman of the MIddlesex Township Supervisors of Cumberland County, and David Wecht, Democrat, Alleghany County judge, are the candidates for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court with one to be elected.

The workings of the Superior Court involves caseloads dealing with nearly every aspect of legal matters. Fifteen justices sit and make decisions on cases concerning wills, estates, divorces, child custody, crimes and personal injuries. The term is for 10 years. Stable is a former deputy attorney general

Anne Covey, Republican, and Kathryn Boockvar, Democrat, both of Bucks County, are seeking a seat on the state Commonwealth Court, often referred as the "people's court." It comprises of nine judges and make decisions on legal matters pertaining to issues involving land use, such as the Marcellus Shale, labor practices, workers' compensation, taxation, voter rights and public records.

Covey is an attorney who specialized in labor law and was the first woman appointed to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and was a law clerk for the president judge of the Commonwealth Court. Boovkvar worked chiefly on the nonprofit and private side of the law.

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