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Supreme Court Nominees

Widener University School of Law invites all Pennsylvanians to make an informed choice when voting for Supreme Court candidates in the May 15th primary.

Judicial Supreme Court Candidate Biographies

Berry, Judge Willis |  Jones II, Judge C. Darnell |  Krancer, Judge Michael L. |  Lally-Green, Judge Maureen |  McCaffery, Judge Seamus P. |  Panepinto, Judge Paul P. |  Todd, Judge Debra

Honorable Willis W. Berry Jr.

Party Affiliation: Democrat
County: Philadelphia County
Rating: Not Recommended; The Candidate has served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County since 1996. He has extensive experience in the Criminal Division. Prior to being elected to the bench, the Candidate practiced law in Philadelphia, focusing on criminal law. The Commission believes that while the Candidate has served well in Common Pleas Court, it cannot recommend him for election to the Supreme Court. This conclusion is based on the Candidate's lack of experience in areas of the law outside of criminal law, lack of administrative experience and lack of demonstrated community service. Further, he has not participated in bar-related functions, teaching, writing or his court's efforts to improve the justice system. For these reasons, the Commission has not recommended the Candidate for the Supreme Court.

Biography: Biography requested from candidate.

Honorable C. Darnell Jones II

Party Affiliation: Democrat
County: Philadelphia County
Rating: Highly Recommended; The Candidate is president judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and has been a member of this court since 1987. Prior to serving as a judge, he was an attorney at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. His administrative qualities have been demonstrated through his service as chair of the Administrative Governing Board for the First Judicial District and his former service as chief of the family division of the Defender Association. The candidate has excellent writing skills and has authored more than 120 opinions. He has presided over hundreds of jury and bench trials. The Candidate is a nationally-recognized judicial expert in matters of criminal law. He enjoys the respect of his peers and an excellent reputation in the legal and social community. The Candidate is extremely hard working, intellectually curious and is a dedicated, dependable community servant. The Commission believes that the Candidate has the experience, temperament, intellectual ability, character, life experiences and integrity necessary for outstanding service as a Justice of the Supreme Court. He is highly recommended for this position.

Biography:C. Darnell Jones, II was elected President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in December 2005 and took office on January 10, 2006. He was appointed Chair of the Administrative Governing Board of the First Judicial District by the Supreme Court shortly after his election as President Judge. That body is the coordinating body for all of the FJD courts: Common Pleas, Municipal and Traffic. Judge Jones has been a judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1987. He has held various positions on the court, including: managing judge of the Adult Probation and Parole Department, member of the Judicial Education Committee, presiding judge and Co-Coordinating Judge of the Homicide Division, presiding judge in the Major Civil Trial Division. He served as a presiding judge in the Commerce Case Management Program (Business Court), and also has served as a Supervising Judge of the Philadelphia County Grand Jury. Prior to becoming a judge, he practiced law at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where among other responsibilities, he served as chief of the Family Court Division. Immediately prior to becoming a judge, he worked for the Citizens Crime Commission. Judge Jones obtained his bachelor's degree from Southwestern College in French, and his J.D. degree from American University, Washington College of Law.

He is a member of University of Pennsylvania American Inn of Court. Judge Jones revised and updated several works, including: "Rule 32, Sentencing and Judgment," Moore's Federal Practice 3d, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. (2002); "Drug Testing in the Workplace," Criminal Defense Techniques, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. (2001); "Sentencing," Prosecution and Defense of Sex Crimes, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. (1997); "Assignment of Counsel in State Courts," Criminal Defense Techniques, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. (1997); and, "Presenting the Direct Case--Foundations for Evidence," Criminal Law Advocacy, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. (1996). He has been teaching since 1991 in law school, graduate school, and continuing legal and judicial education. Judge Jones instructs in the areas of trial advocacy, court administration, jury selection, evidence, capital cases and juvenile law. He has previously served as an adjunct professor at St. Joseph's University's Graduate School, Temple University School of Law and The National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School since 1993. Judge Jones is an alumnus of The National Judicial College and joined the faculty in 1998. Judge Jones is a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's Commission on Capital Education. He currently teaches Handling Capital Cases for the National Judicial College, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's Capital Case Initiative program, and Criminal Evidence for the National Judicial College.

Judge Jones has received the distinguished Thurgood Marshall Award for excellence, the Brandeis Law Society Award for Community Service, and Judge Jones was named one of the 500 leading judges in America by Lawdragon magazine in 2005. In October 2006, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the American College of Business Court Judges at their annual meeting at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC. President Judge Jones is married, the father of five children, and a member of Zion Baptist Church.

On January 25, 2007 the Pennsylvania Bar Association rated President Judge C. Darnell Jones II as "highly recommended to be a justice of the Pennsylvania Court."

Honorable Michael L. Krancer

Party Affiliation: Republican, Party Endorsed
County: Montgomery County
Rating: Recommended; The Candidate currently serves on the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a statewide trial court for environmental litigation. He was appointed to that board as a judge in October 1999 and confirmed by the Senate and elevated to chief judge in 2003. In 2005, he was reappointed and again confirmed by the Senate. The Candidate was a litigator in Philadelphia from 1983 until his appointment to the EHB. The Candidate possesses an excellent work ethic; he is scholarly, thoughtful, hard working and passionate about the law. His opinions are complete and authoritative and have been well accepted by the appellate courts. He enjoys an excellent reputation and has been actively engaged for many years in public service and community involvement. The Commission believes that the Candidate's experience, demeanor and temperament, coupled with his intellect and work ethic, render him competent to fulfill the demanding responsibilities of a Supreme Court Justice.

Biography:Judge Michael L. Krancer was nominated to serve as one of the five judges of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) by Governor Tom Ridge in October 1999. The Senate of Pennsylvania unanimously confirmed the nomination and Judge Krancer took the oath of office in November 1999. The Environmental Hearing Board is the statutorily established trial court of statewide jurisdiction which hears appeals from actions of the Department of Environmental Protection. It operates as part trial court, part appellate court. Judge Krancer was named by Governor Rendell as Chief Judge and Chairman of the EHB in February 2003. He was re-nominated for a second term by the Governor in October 2005 and the Senate confirmed the nomination in early 2006. Judge Krancer has written over 108 published legal opinions all of which are a matter of public record and can be reviewed either through Lexis or on the Board's website at

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Krancer was a litigation partner at the Dilworth Paxson and Blank Rome firms in Philadelphia. He graduated, with distinction, in 1980 from the University of Virginia with a degree in economics and in 1983 from the Washington and Lee University School of Law where he was first in his class and was elected to Order of the Coif. He served as a writer and an editor on the school's Law Review. He was also a law clerk to the Honorable Joseph S. Lord, III, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, while in law school.

Judge Krancer is an active member of the Montgomery Bar Association (MBA) where he serves on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee and he is a member of the Environmental Law Committee, the Municipal Law Committee, the Government Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He is a frequent lecturer for Continuing Legal Education programs in substantive law and he has also written and lectured on the subject of the attorneys' and judges' Code of Civility.

Judge Krancer serves on the Board of Directors of Inn Dwelling, a non-profit faith-based initiative corporation associated with St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, whose mission is capacity-building among disadvantaged families in the Germantown and Northeast sections of Philadelphia. Judge Krancer works with Inn Dwelling high school students as a volunteer writing skills coach. He also serves on the Board of Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Jewish Publication Society, the Jewish Publication Group and Riverbend Environmental Education Center where he has served as Vice President. He and his wife, Barbara, served as Chairs of the Harvest Ball for the Albert Einstein Medical Center, and are members of the United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Society.

Honorable Maureen Lally-Green

Party Affiliation: Republican, Party Endorsed
Rating: Highly Recommended; The Candidate has served as a judge of the Superior Court since 1998, having been appointed in 1998 and elected to a 10-year term beginning in January 2000. The Candidate has a diverse legal background. She has been a professor at Duquesne University School of Law and she has practiced law in the areas of securities, business and corporations. She also has served as a research associate for the Supreme Court. She has written extensively on a wide-ranging set of topics and her writings are scholarly and thoughtful. The Candidate also has written a variety of opinions during her tenure on the Superior Court that are noteworthy for their organization and structure and her clear analysis of the issues and applicable precedent. Her opinions are well-reasoned and provide very helpful guidance on difficult issues. In addition, her judicial temperament and impartiality in decision-making are outstanding. She is known for her fairness, courtesy and respect for counsel who appear before the Superior Court. The Candidate also has an outstanding record of meaningful community service. The Commission believes that the Candidate would be an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court and highly recommends her.

Biography: Judge Maureen E. Lally-Green was born in Sharpsville, Mercer County. She graduated from Duquesne University with a B.S. in Secondary Education, Mathematics (1971) and its School of Law (1974) (Law Review).

In 1998, Judge Lally-Green was appointed by Governor Tom Ridge to the Superior Court, and confirmed by the State Senate. In 1999, Judge Lally-Green was elected for a term of ten years.

Judge Lally-Green has been an associate with a private law firm in Pittsburgh (1974-75), counsel to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Washington, D.C.) (1975-78), counsel to the former Westinghouse Electric Corporation (1978-83), a consultant to Justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1985-87; 1988-98), and a Professor of Law at Duquesne University's School of Law (1983-98). She continues as an adjunct professor of law at Duquesne's Law School and annually teaches in various law-related programs. She is published in various law reviews.

The Judge is, among other things, a member of: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court''s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee (appointed by the Court); Secretary and Member of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Commission on Race, Gender and Ethnic Fairness (appointed by the Supreme Court); Board of Directors, Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania; Board of Trustees, Auberle, McKeesport, Pa.; Board of Regents, St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pa.; Board of Directors, St. Thomas More Society of Allegheny County; Board of Directors, Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA; Board of Directors, Ireland Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa; National and International Associations of Women Judges; and the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association''s Commission on Women in the Profession. She has also served as: Chair of the Supreme Court''s Gender Fairness Implementation Committee; Chair of the PBA''s Quality of Work Life Committee; elected member and Secretary of the Board of the Allegheny County Bar Association; and member and Chair of the Zoning Hearing Board of Cranberry Township. She is also a former President of the Western Pennsylvania Partners of the Americas.

She has been recognized for her achievements: Anne X. Alpern Award, the highest honor given by the Pennsylvania Bar Association''s Commission on Women in the Profession (2006); St. Thomas More Award, St. Thomas More Society (2002); Duquesne University Law School Distinguished Alumna Award (2001); Chatham College's President''s Medal (2000); Fellow in International Development, Kellogg Foundation; and, Duquesne University School of Law Women''s Law Association Woman of the Year. In 1997, Governor Tom Ridge nominated her for Supreme Court. Finally, she has been recognized in: Who''s Who in the World; Who's Who in America; Who's Who in American Law; Who's Who Among American Women; Who's Who in Emerging Leaders; Who''s Who in Executives and Professionals.

Honorable Seamus P. McCaffery

Party Affiliation: Democrat, Party Endorsed
County: Philadelphia County
Rating: Recommended; The Candidate has a wide range of experiences in the Pennsylvania legal system. He has served in law enforcement and as a lawyer, municipal judge and now as a judge on the Superior Court. His unique background and work experience affords him a solid understanding and appreciation of the workings of the unified judiciary. This, combined with his service as administrative judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, makes him well suited to serve as a member of our highest court. The Candidate has demonstrated a life-long commitment to public service and is currently a Colonel in the United States Air Force (Res.) and Air Force liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. The Candidate offers a high level of energy and a strong work ethic. He is recognized for his strong personality and is an innovative and creative problem solver. He has great respect for the law, its institutions and traditions. He is committed to improving the public's understanding and respect for the legal system and the courts. The Commission believes that the Candidate has the requisite legal ability and skills necessary to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

Biography: Judge Seamus P. McCaffery was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on June 3, 1950, the second of seven children born to Seamus and Rita McCaffery. As an immigrant, Seamus' life became the fulfillment of the American dream. When he graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1968, he joined the United States Marine Corps as a private. After completion of his active duty service, he continued to serve his country in the Marine Corps Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain. In 1985, Seamus transferred into the United States Air Force Reserve, where he took over as the commanding Officer of the 913th Security Police Squadron. He continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel. During his assignment to Air Combat Command Headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, he was mobilized in support of Operation Noble Eagle after the World Trade Center/Pentagon attack. In his current assignment, he serves as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for Homeland Defense to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In 1970, Seamus joined the Philadelphia Police Department, where he distinguished himself during his 20 years of service, and retired as a highly-decorated veteran. He served as a patrolman, a plainclothes Vice/Narcotics investigator, and as a detective, working in the Homicide and Major Crimes Divisions. He worked on several high-profile murder investigations, and rose to the rank of supervisor before retiring in 1989. While working fulltime as a police officer, Seamus pursued his education, earning a Bachelor's degree from La Salle University, and then his Juris Doctor degree from Temple University School of Law. Seamus became a member of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington, D. C. bars, and worked as a litigation associate at one of the city's premier law firms . He went on to become the first retired Philadelphia Police officer ever elected as a trial judge in Philadelphia County. Since then, he has won recognition, both locally and nationally, appearing on ESPN, Dateline, Inside Edition, MSNBC, Good Morning America and on every major radio talk show, as well as received widespread coverage in newspapers across the country for his innovative Nuisance Night Court program, and for the creation of the National Football League's first and only Court, conducted during each Philadelphia Eagles football home games. Philadelphia's largest newspaper has labeled Seamus "Philadelphia's Quality of Life Judge". And, in October 2001, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointed him the Administrative Judge of the 4th largest court in America, the Philadelphia Municipal Court. He has already made his mark there by implementing numerous excellent and creative new programs. He was elected to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in November 2003, where he hears cases throughout the Commonwealth. His achievements have made his three sons, Sean, Jim, and Brian, and his wife, Lise Rapaport, Esquire, very proud.

Honorable Paul P. Panepinto

Party Affiliation: Republican
County: Philadelphia County
Rating: Highly Recommended;The Candidate has been a member of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia since 1990. He is knowledgeable and a good communicator and has an excellent reputation as a jurist. He couples that with extensive administrative experience. As administrative judge of the Family Court in Philadelphia for five years, he is credited with developing several innovative programs, including a truancy program that has become a national model. He also has exhibited substantial expertise in handling complex civil litigation. The Candidate exhibits energy, thoughtfulness and innovation in facilitating improvements to the administration of justice. He also demonstrates solid consensus-building skills. His extensive legal knowledge and good judicial temperament, combined with personal and administrative skills make him an outstanding candidate for the position of justice of the Supreme Court. He is highly recommended for this position. Biography: Judge Panepinto is currently a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County. On September 25, 2003, Judge Panepinto was appointed to the Court of Judicial Discipline by Governor Edward Rendell.

Judge Panepinto attended Villanova University and received his B.A. in Political Science in 1971, and M.A. in Political Science in 1979. He received his J.D. in 1976 from Widener University School of Law. Judge Panepinto was appointed to the bench of the Court of Common Pleas in June 1990, elected in his own right in 1991, and retained for a ten year term commencing January 2002.

He began his career at Family Court, 1971, progressing from a Probation Officer to an Intake Unit Attorney and then to Juvenile Master before being appointed a Judge.

In April 1996, Judge Panepinto was appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to serve as Administrative Judge of the Philadelphia Family Court Division where he served until December 2000.

A member of numerous professional associations, Judge Panepinto also serves as a Board Member of the Alumni Association of the Widener University School of Law. He is a member of both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Bar Associations and was appointed by Governor Tom Ridge to serve as a Member of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission, 1996 to 2002. Judge Panepinto was also elected as Trustee and Board Member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Panepinto currently serves as Pennsylvania Chair of the "Do The Write Thing" National Campaign, which is a national effort to fight school violence. In September of 2002, he was elected as Secretary of the National Truancy Prevention Association and serves as President of the Sons of Italy Roxborough Lodge.

Judge Panepinto has received numerous awards for his work in launching the nation''s first satellite truancy court which has served as a model for other jurisdictions, including Rhode Island. Among his most notable awards include Outstanding Alumnus of the Year from Widener University Law School in 1994, as well as the Marvin E. Wolfgang Award of the Juvenile Justice Center of Pennsylvania presented to him in August 1999 for his outstanding contributions to the Family Law Section of the Bar and for work performed for Children at Risk.

Honorable Debra Todd

Party Affiliation: Democrat, Party Endorsed
County: Allegheny County
Rating: Highly Recommended; The Candidate has served on the Pennsylvania Superior Court since her election in 1999. On the court, she is known for her passion for the law, her academic approach to decision making and her thoughtful, thorough scholarly opinions. She brings a breadth of experience from an active civil litigation practice, which has been expanded because a majority of her time on the court is devoted to criminal matters. She has continued her involvement in a variety of community service endeavors, especially those dealing with young people. She has a strong commitment to the law and to the improvement of the court system, both of which have helped instill public awareness of and confidence in the judiciary. The Commission believes the Candidate has the intellectual ability, personal integrity, strong sense of fairness, and diverse practical and academic experience to serve with distinction on the highest court. She is highly recommended for this position.

Biography: Judge Debra McCloskey Todd was born in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania on October 15, 1957, the daughter of the late Harry and Blanche McCloskey. She is a 1979 Honors graduate of Chatham College (B.A.) and a 1982 Law Review graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (J.D.). In 2004, Judge Todd was awarded the LL.M. Degree in the Judicial Process by the University of Virginia School of Law.

From 1982 through 1987, Judge Todd was an in-house litigation attorney for U.S. Steel Corporation. She maintained a trial practice in the City of Pittsburgh from 1987 through 1999 with an emphasis in complex civil litigation. From 1989 through 1999, she also served as a Court-Appointed Special Master for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Judge Todd is an elected member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County and an alumna and former board member of the Leadership Pittsburgh Program. She is a member of the Allegheny, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations, and is a fellow of the Allegheny County Bar Association Foundation. Judge Todd has been a lecturer and panelist for continuing legal education programs on trial and appellate practice and procedure.

The Judge presently serves as a board member of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and the Finnegan Foundation, a foundation established to provide internships in Pennsylvania government to outstanding accredited college and university students. She also is a member of the American Judicature Society, the National Association of Women Judges, the International Association of Women Judges, and the Women's Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania.

Judge Todd was elected to the Superior Court in November 1999, and commenced service on the Court in January 2000. Her chambers are in Pittsburgh.