Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) announced a number of nominations to fill judicial vacancies at all levels of the Commonwealth’s judiciary. Although each nomination still requires Senate confirmation, the nominees were selected as part of a bipartisan-backed process.
Wolf named current Republican Superior Court Judge Sallie Mundy to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Michael Eakin’s departure in March of this year. Eakin resigned in the wake of an ethics investigation tied to Pennsylvania’s perpetually on-going Porngate scandal.
Wolf’s appointment of Mundy to the state’s highest court is likely an olive branch to Republican legislators as the state budget deadline approaches.
Perhaps most interesting are the two nominations tapped to fill upcoming vacancies at the Commonwealth Court.
The first pick, attorney Joe Cosgrove, a professor of constitutional law at Kings College and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, has previously served as an interim judge after the “kids-for-cash” scandal plagued Luzerne County’s judiciary. Cosgrove is very vocal in his opposition to the death penalty, once having Mother Teresa testify via telephone as a defense witness in a case where the death penalty was on the table. His most recent public-sector tenure was with the legal department of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
Wolf’s second pick for the Commonwealth Court is Julia Hearthway, a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Law and a resident of Chester County. From 2011 to 2015, Hearthway served as Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry after being tapped for the position by then Governor Tom Corbett. For almost two decades prior, she worked in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, serving as chief deputy attorney general since 2001.
The two Commonwealth Court picks hail from very different backgrounds, and add to an already diverse judicial bench. PBA currently has pending litigation before the Commonwealth Court, so we will continue to monitor the status of Wolf’s nominations.
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