This week, I published three stories about Governor Wolf's 29 judicial nominations, which he released on Monday and include Dan McCarthy for Lehigh County and Alicia Zito for a magisterial position in Northampton County. My first story notes that these picks, for the most part, appear to have gone to political insiders. My second story references a Legal Intelligencer report that Governor Wolf ignored the recommendations of a commission that he set up himself to review potential nominees. My third story reports that an 11-person commission ,"100% nonpartisan," interviewed 46 judicial wannabes and recommended about 11 or 12.
Leon W. Tucker, an African American judge from Philly, was on the short list. So were Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, son of Italian immigrants, and Joe Cosgrove, who helped restore integrity to a badly damaged Luzerne County bench after the kids-for-cash scandal. Tucker and Giordano were snubbed, although Cosgrove was named to the Commonwealth Court.
The Inky has finally picked up on this story, and has also noticed that Judge Tucker was bypassed in favor of Republican insider Sallie Mundy, who was never even interviewed by Wolf's commission.
So much for merit selection. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli pointed out that this is why the so-called merit selection of judges is bad for democracy. "It is the epitome of elitism," he says.