Bar Assoc. rates potential judicial candidates
NORRISTOWN >> With three judicial seats on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas up for grabs during this year’s elections, 11 lawyers, potential candidates, have received “Highly Recommended” or “Recommended” ratings from the Montgomery Bar Association.
The Judiciary Committee of the Montgomery Bar Association released its list of ratings for potential candidates this week. This year, the candidates were individually interviewed and their qualifications reviewed by 27 members of the committee, according to Eric B. Smith, co-chairman of the 34-member judiciary committee.
Lawyers Daniel G. Ronca and Virgil B. Walker each received “Highly Recommended” ratings, the bar association announcing they “possess superior qualifications to serve with distinction” on the county bench.
“Each possesses an exceptional level of integrity, good moral character, industry, legal ability and experience, courtroom experience, and judicial temperament, to be rated as highly recommended,” the judiciary committee wrote in a news release announcing the ratings.
A candidate may only earn the rating of highly recommended if eighty percent or more of those members of the committee casting a ballot vote that candidate as “Highly Recommended,” Smith explained.
The following lawyers received “Recommended” ratings: Jeffrey P. Bates; Christopher J. Cerski; Michael Drossner; Henry S. Hilles, III; Katherine E. McGill; Patrick J. Moran; Nathan M. Murawsky; Mary C. Pugh; and Melissa Schwartz-Sterling.
“Each possesses the appropriate levels of integrity, good moral character, industry, legal ability and experience, courtroom experience, and judicial temper-
ament, to be rated as recommended. Each candidate has the legal experience, commitment to justice, the community and the practice of law, to be rated as recommended by the committee,” the judiciary committee wrote.
Each candidate initially answered a 42-question questionnaire, providing a summary of his or her legal experience and background, according to Smith. The committee then assigned investigators who reviewed the candidates’ backgrounds, which may have included meeting with the candidates, reviewing any disciplinary board records and interviewing references.
After the committee hearf from investigators, each candidate then appearrf before the full committee
and was interviewed individually.
Smith said the rating criteria considered for the candidates include: integrity; good moral character; industry; legal ability; relevant courtroom experience; and judicial temperament.
“These are the lead factors,” Smith said.
Smith said the judiciary committee is a self-governing, committee charged with the obligation to pass upon the qualifications of every candidate for the office
of county judge and to advise the public accordingly. The committee is composed of the bar association’s ten most recent past-presidents as well as elected rotating panels of 24 of the association’s members-at-large.
The committee’s members are lawyers of diverse background, ages, practices and geographic areas of Montgomery County and share nearly 1,000 years of collective legal experience.
“Our process is non-partisan,” explained Smith,
who co-chairs the committee with lawyer Michael C. Shields.
The county’s political parties will announce their own endorsements for the judicial seats later this year.
The Montgomery County Democratic Committee will hold its annual candidate endorsement convention on Feb. 21.
The Montgomery County Republican Committee will endorse a slate of candidates during its convention on March 14.