In its final round of ratings for potential Superior Court candidates, the Pennsylvania Bar Association has issued ratings of three additional contenders, with one receiving a “highly recommended” rating and two receiving ratings of “not recommended.”
The three hopefuls include a Philadelphia judge who before her election to the Common Pleas Court served as chief counsel to Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, and a Pittsburgh attorney who caused concern at the bar association’s Judicial Evaluation Commission over her handling of social media content that was allegedly plagiarized.
The newly rated contenders come in addition to the five that the bar association rated in January, all of whom are vying for two open spots on the intermediate appellate court.
The only candidate to receive a “highly recommended” rating in the latest round was Philadelphia Judge Timika R. Lane.
Lane has presided over criminal cases after she was elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2013. Before taking the bench, she worked in private practice handling family law cases, and later handled major trials at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. In 2009, she became chief counsel to Williams.
In its release explaining the ratings, the commission said Lane’s colleagues describe her as “fair, even handed, highly ethical, hardworking and knowledgeable.”
“She demonstrates a commitment to public service and has extensive community involvement,” the commission said. “Due to her background, attributes and experience, the commission is confident the candidate would serve with distinction as a Superior Court judge.”
The rating makes Lane and fellow Philadelphia Judge Daniel McCaffery as the only two candidates to receive “highly recommended” ratings.
Pittsburgh attorney Elizabeth Tarasi, who focuses on personal injury and real estate, was rated as “not recommended” over concerns stemming from alleged plagiarism.
According to the commission, Tarasi had the “requisite legal knowledge, ability and writing skills” needed to become a Superior Court judge, and her record of community involvement also showed she had “the appropriate temperament and character for the judiciary.” However, the commission said it had concerns about her social media content.
“During her interview with the commission, it was revealed that she failed to exercise oversight of plagiarized content on her social media website,” the commission said. “When questioned, she failed to accept full accountability for the matter, leaving the commission with concerns about her character and integrity.”
As a result the commission rated her as “not recommended.”
Tarasi did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
McKeesport attorney Ryan James also received a “not recommended” rating by the commission.
According to the commission, James has been practicing since 2012, and, after working as an associate for three months, he opened his own firm as a solo practitioner with a general practice. The commission noted James has never held a judicial clerkship.
“Although known for his good temperament and diligent work ethic, the commission finds the candidate has not had the breadth or depth of experience necessary to take on the role of the Pennsylvania Superior Court,” the commission said.
Along with McCaffery, the three newly rated contenders join candidates Catherine “Kate” Harper, Megan Lee King and Cumberland County Judge Christylee Peck, who each received a “recommended” rating, as well as Amanda Green-Hawkins, who received a “not recommended” rating.
James did not immediately return a call seeking comment.