Choosing the right judge is no simple task

As usual, Pennsylvania voters are paying little attention to next week's judicial elections, providing more evidence that the state would be better off selecting jurists who didn't have to scrape up campaign money from sources who have more than a civic interest in the outcome.

Merit selection makes more sense in a state that has seen three elected Supreme Court justices exit in infamy in recent years: Joan Orie Melvin was convicted of using her judicial staff to perform campaign work. Seamus McCaffery and Michael Eakin retired after being implicated in the pornographic e-mails scandal.

But merit selection must wait. Tuesday, voters must make judicial choices in the primary. Some guidance is provided by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which evaluated and ranked judicial candidates as "highly recommended," "recommended," or "not recommended." The bar's rankings were as follows:

State Supreme Court

Highly Recommended

Sallie Updyke Mundy, Tioga County

Recommended

Dwayne D. Woodruff, Allegheny County

Superior Court

Highly Recommended

Emil A. Giordano, Northampton County

Deborah A. Kunselman, Beaver County

H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr., Montgomery County

Paula A. Patrick, Philadelphia County

Craig W. Stedman, Lancaster County

Recommended

Wade A. Kagarise, Blair County

Maria C. McLaughlin, Philadelphia County

Carolyn H. Nichols, Philadelphia County

Not Recommended

William F. Caye II, Allegheny County

Jules Mermelstein, Montgomery County (didn't participate)

Mary P. Murray, Allegheny County (didn't participate)

Commonwealth Court

Highly Recommended

Joseph M. Cosgrove, Luzerne County

Christine Fizzano Cannon, Delaware County

Recommended

Bryan E. Barbin, Cambria County

W. Timothy Barry, Allegheny County

Ellen H. Ceisler, Philadelphia County

R. Todd Eagen, Lackawanna County

Paul N. Lalley, Allegheny County

Not Recommended

Irene McLaughlin Clark, Allegheny County

Using its own criteria, the Philadelphia Bar Association rated judicial candidates for the city, including:

Court of Common Pleas

Recommended

Wendi Barish

Lawrence J. Bozzelli

Deborah Canty

Lucretia C. Clemons

David Conroy

Leonard Deutchman

Vincent Furlong

Leon Goodman

Vikki Kristiansson

John Macoretta

Jon Marshall

Brian McLaughlin

Mark J. Moore

Jennifer Schultz

Zac Shaffer

Henry McGregor Sias

Daniel R. Sulman

Stella Tsai

Not Recommended

Terri M. Booker

Deborah Cianfrani

Mark B. Cohen

Shanese Johnson

Rania Major

Vincent Melchiorre

Danyl S. Patterson

Crystal B. Powell

Bill Rice

Municipal Court

Recommended

Marissa Brumbach

Jon Marshall

George Twardy

Matt Wolf

Not Recommended:

Bill Rice

Sherman Toppin