Monday, February 8, 2016

Put the "No" in November, good government groups say

Put the "No" in November, good government groups say



Two good government activists have released a stinging report on Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille, contending he has politicized and mismanaged the judicial system and urging voters to reject him when he runs for retention in November.

Eric Epstein, of Rock The Capital, and Harrisburg-area activist Tim Potts were actively involved in the successful 2005 effort to oust onetime Supreme Court Justice Russell M. Nigro, and are now setting their sights on defeating Castille.

The two claim that Castille's career has been marked by poor judgment, a lack of leadership and political gamesmanship.

"We're not alleging anything criminal," Potts said during a press conference at the Capitol on Monday, "only failures of ethics, leadership and competence.

Reached for comment Monday, Castille said a copy of the report was delivered to him, and called it little more than a "rehashing" of negative articles that have been written about him over the last two decades.

He noted that the report "forgot" to mention that he is a decorated Marine Corps veteran who lost a leg in the Vietnam War "serving my country," and that he has written 400 majority opinions, as well as 200 dissents, among other accomplishments.

"I guess they want to get their names in the paper," Castille said of Potts and Epstein.

The two longtime activists allege, among other things, that as head of the state's highest court, Castille mishandled important matters. They contend the chief justice should have acted faster to review what ended up turning into the Kids for Cash scandal in Luzerne County. And they criticized the court's decision during the payraise controversy of 2005, in which the justices decided that state judges - including themselves - could keep the raises granted to them during a middle-of-the-night vote by the legislature. Castille authored the decision.

They also questioned Castille's handling of the Family Court building scandal in Philadelphia.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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