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In a political climate with PACleanSweep calling for the whole-sale rejection of virutally every Pennsylvania judge up for retention, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention continued its traditional investigation of the suitability of judicial candidates, its poll of attorneys about their ratings of judicial candidates and its publication of a list of recommended and not recommended candidates.

The judicial commission said yesterday Philadelphia Municipal Court Judges Georganne V. Daher and Deborah S. Griffin were not recommended for retention in the Nov. 6 general election.

Neither judge participated in the commission’s process, including its questionnaire that is sent to every judicial candidate; that nonparticipation automatically made them not-recommended candidates, said Shelley Smith, chair of the commission.

“That is the basis upon which the determination was made,” Smith said.

Daher and Griffin did not return phone calls made to their offices yesterday afternoon.

In an implicit rebuke to reform group PACleanSweep’s focus on the pay raise, Jane Dalton, chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, said the bar’s recommendations evaluate judges on the basis of their entire record and judicial philosophy, rather than a single issue.

“Even if there weren’t this kind of CleanSweep issue, the bar association has traditionally understood part of its mission is to affect legal matters and educate the public on how our legal system works, particularly how our state constitution is set up,” Dalton said. “Judges serve 10 years and they are up for retention. The retention decision is not based on one singular decision the judge might make, but instead: Is the judge industrious? Does the judge apply legal principle appropriately? Does the judge have proper judicial temperament?”

PACleanSweep called last month for voters to reject Supreme Court Justice Thomas G. Saylor, three Superior Court judges, three Commonwealth Court judges, 53 common pleas court judges and seven Philadelphia Municipal and traffic judges for retention because of 2005′s controversial elected-official pay raise. The PAC later removed Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin from its list because Melvin returned the $14,000 she received under the pay raise.

Dalton said the bar assocation advanced on its hope that the city’s dominant Democratic Party would not endorse candidates that were not recommended by the bar assoication.

“That’s something we did very well on this year. The parties did not endorse candidates for judge that were not on our recommended list,” Dalton said.

In March 2005, then-bar chancellor Andrew Chirls said that the association’s judicial-candidate ratings were being released earlier than usual to grab the attention of party leaders for the bar’s findings. But U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who chairs the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee, told The Legal in 2005 that city’s dominant party does not take judicial ratings into consideration when endorsing judicial candidates. In 2005, the party selected a candidate that had not been recommended by the bar commission. But, then, of the eight candidates endorsed by Democrats for 2005′s judicial seats, only four won in the primary .

Dalton said those kinds of election results showed that more than the party nod was needed to win a seat on the bench.

“It became increasingly apparent simply having a political party endorsement without qualifications wasn’t necessarily going to lead to a successful candidacy. … We have continued to encourage the political parties to only endorse candidates that are recommended,” Dalton said. “We have more candidate recommendations than there are slots. It’s good that there’s more qualified people than there are openings. That is much better than the other way around.”

Brady did not respond to a request for comment yesterday afternoon.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judges Mark I. Bernstein, Gary DiVito, John W. Herron, C. Darnell Jones II, Barbara A. Joseph, Shelley Robins New, Rosalyn K. Robinson, Peter F. Rogers, M. Teresa Sarmina and Edward R. Summers were recommended for retention.

Municipal Court Judges Teresa Carr Deni, Ronald B. Merriweather, Wendy L. Pew and Louis J. Presenza were recommended for retention.

Jones, president judge of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, and Presenza, of the Municipal Court, received the highest ratings in the poll of Philadelphia attorneys by the bar association, according to the poll results provided by the bar. Of 233 responses to the question, “In your opinion, with respect to this judge’s judicial performance, is he/she qualified?” 98.71 percent said Jones was qualified. Of 129 responses, 100 percent said Presenza was qualified.

Of 168 responses to the same question, 47.02 percent said Daher, who was not recommended by the commission, was qualified. Of 115 responses, 60 percent said Griffin, who also was not recommended, was qualified.

Under the association’s bylaws, attorneys must be polled about their opinion of judges as part of the commission’s process, but the poll has only an advisory role in the commission’s decision-making. Attorneys are asked if they have confidence in a judge’s integrity; if the judge demonstrates legal ability to perform his or her duties; if the judge has a “proper judicial temperament;” if the judge is “efficient and industrious;” if they have personally appeared in front of the judge; and if the judge is qualified.

Of 285 responses to the same rating question asked about Daher, Griffin, Jones and Presenza, 92.28 percent said Bernstein, of the common pleas court, was qualified. Of 140 responses, 85 percent said DiVito was qualified. Of 192 responses, 92.71 percent said Herron was qualified. Of 133 responses, 71.43 percent said Joseph was qualified. Of 133 responses, 93.98 percent said Robins New was qualified. Of 88 responses, 63.64 percent said Robinson was qualified. Of 73 responses, 57.53 percent said Rogers was qualified. Of 107 responses, 86.92 percent said Sarmina was qualified. Of 83 responses, 78.31 percent said Summers was qualified.

Of 147 responses, 89.12 percent said Carr Deni, of the Municipal Court, was qualified. Of 145 responses, 75.86 percent said Merriweather was qualified. Of 117 responses, 93.16 percent said Pew was qualified.

The commission repeated its recommendation of Linda Carpenter, Alice Beck Dubow, Michael Erdos, Joyce Eubanks and Ellen Green-Ceisler for election to the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, its recommendation of Joseph J. O’Neill for election to the Philadelphia Municipal Court and its nonrecommendation of Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde for election to the Municipal Court.

In the spring primary season, the commission recommended all 16 common pleas and municipal court candidates.

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