Ahead of Election Day, Philadelphia Bar Association releases judicial ratings

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Tuesday is Election Day, and a number of judges are on the ballot. The Philadelphia Bar Association released its judical ratings as a public service to voters. 

The Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention spends weeks investigating judicial candidates, evaluating 10 areas, including legal ability, trial experience, reputation, judicial temperament, and community involvement. It consists of 35 members and employs 120 investigators.

"It's a very labor-intensive process," said bar chancellor Shelly Fedullo, "and at the end of the process, we issue recommendations."

Fedullo said highly recommended candidates are preeminent in their field. She likens it to being an "A student." For a variety of possible reasons, including the decision not to participate in the process, candidates can be rated "not recommended."

"There are times when I've walked into the voting booth, looking at the names, and thought, 'I don't know who these folks are' — and I am an attorney in the city. Sometimes we do not have information about people, and it's hard to learn."

The Bar Association does this because judges have considerable power in criminal and civil cases, yet most voters do not think of that power until it's too late.

"This is a very, very big undertaking," said Fedullo, "and it's a service we are happy to provide to the citizens of Philadelphia."

More than two-dozen candidates from the Philadelphia courts and state appeals courts are included in the rankings, which are non-partisan.