Judge knocks jailed PA lawmaker off ballot

A Commonwealth Court judge says former state House speaker Bill DeWeese can’t run for his old district seat because he’s behind bars.

Judge Bernard McGinley ruled late Friday that DeWeese, who stepped down last year after his conviction on public corruption charges,  may not run in November and gave the state Democratic Party the right to replace him, the Associated Press reported.

DeWeese’s lawyer had argued it was premature to rule because DeWeese is pursuing appeals and might be eligible by the time the ballots are cast.

“DeWeese’s criminal conduct and conviction have rendered him ineligible to hold public office,” McGinley wrote. “Also, DeWeese’s prison sentence will span the entire term of the elected position and, if in fact he won the general election in November 2012, his felony convictions would bar him from holding

The state Democratic party sought the ruling in order to line up another candidate to oppose the Republican seeking the southwestern Pennsylvania seat that DeWeese held for 35 years.

DeWeese, 62, is serving a 2 1/2- to 5-year sentence at the state prison in Waymart in northeastern Pennsylvania.


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