2009-05-07 / Front Page

Pa. Judicial Candidates Speak To GOP

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Brobson Brobson Several judicial candidates representing various levels of the court system ranging from the county Court of Common Pleas to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court topped the list of scheduled speakers appearing Friday night before county Republicans.

Judge Joan Orie Melvin, who is the lone Republican candidate endorsed by the state party for the position of Supreme Court justice, led off the extensive list of guest speakers at the Hustontown Firehall, touching on both her judicial and personal experiences. Melvin has logged 11 years with the Superior Court hearing more than 8,000 appeals but actually started at a grass-roots level as a Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge and a municipal court magistrate in the city of Pittsburgh.

Melvin stated she is the only proven conservative judge and reminded voters her job is to rule in accordance with the law and not create it.

Melvin also urged county Republicans to cast their votes in favor of Judy Olson, Sallie Mundy and Temp Smith, candidates for judge of the Superior Court. All three individuals are currently endorsed by the state's Republican Party.

Melvin Melvin Kevin Brobson, judicial candidate for the Commonwealth Court, shared with the crowd his background with the Commonwealth Court that primarily deals with issues ranging from insurance regulatory disputes and government procurement to land-use and environmental law. Brobson, a resident of Dauphin County, mentioned the need for voters to elect judges who share conservative, Republican and Pennsylvania's values.

In addition to Brobson being endorsed by the state party, fellow Commonwealth Court candidate Al Frioni, who was unable to attend the May 1 spring dinner, is also endorsed at a state level. Frioni, a native of Scranton, has served for the last 12 years as an administrative appeals judge/commissioner on the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

Fulton/Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol Van Horn announced she will be seeking retention in the fall in hopes of serving an additional 10-year term of office. Van Horn stated she still holds the same values she had when she first took office 10 years ago regarding faith, family and the community and is now backed by experience. She added she has developed an interest in juvenile law and has had the opportunity to work with many good Fulton County residents during her tenure with the county Court of Common Pleas.

With two vacancies currently existing in the county Court of Common Pleas, one resulting from the retirement of President Judge John R. Walker and the second created by the Legislature, four Republican candidates have emerged in recent months as contenders. Hoping to give some information not previously shared with registered voters, Eric Weisbrod, a Waynesborobased attorney in private practice, informed those on hand he hopes to bring a judicial temperament to the bench based on legal and personal insight.

Weisbrod, the father of a special needs child, said he was raised by a single mom on limited means and has always aimed to provide competent representation for individuals regardless of their economic situation. In connection with his ongoing community involvement, Weisbrod has volunteered his services to Franklin County Legal Services, representing clients in family law matters such as divorce and support issues. He also offers pro bono services to Franklin County Women In Need.

Former county treasurer David Wright spoke on behalf of judicial candidate Shawn Meyers, who began practicing law more than 15 years ago and has experience in criminal, family and municipal issues. Having travelled the mountain into Fulton County over the years, Wright noted, Meyers is familiar with routes 30 and 522 and all points in between.

Meyers, according to Wright, has represented the poor and those in need and serves as Fulton County's attorney for the Area Agency on Aging. Community services included a stint as a board member for the Franklin County Association for Retarded Citizens, former president of the Mercersburg Rotary and 2003 campaign chair for the United Way.

"Regardless of the size of the county, justice is the same for all citizens," concluded Wright.

Franklin County native Angela Rosenberry Krom informed voters her desire to become judge is "about the people, not the politics." Krom shared tales regarding her 13-year tenure with the Franklin County District Attorney's Office, meeting with juvenile offenders and second opportunities for them to turn their lives around; helping victims of domestic violence so severely beaten even their gender isn't distinguishable; and shaken-baby cases.

"These are the reasons I want to work beside the fine judges of Fulton and Franklin counties," said Krom. "I can promise to do my very best for the people and to always do the right thing for the right reason."

Timothy D. Wilmot rounded out the list of four Court of Common Pleas candidates and referenced his work experience with the Franklin County District Attorney's Office since 1999. Wilmot, also a master of divorce hearings, has presided over at least 500 divorce cases, some involving multi-million dollar estates, since his court appointment in 1996.

An aviator with the United States Marine Corps, Wilmot referenced his military background and receipt of his wings in 1986. Wilmot, a father of three ranging in age from 11 to 18, stated he stepped down from the military after decided he would be more successful as an at-home dad than as a deployed dad.

Lisa Mellott Skiles, political newcomer vying for the position of county prothonotary, stated a combination of hard work and determination made her business of 18 years successful. Skiles labeled herself as a conservative and, if elected, promised to be careful with office finances during difficult economic times.

Skiles touched on working as a team as well as the need for good relations with the public and stated she would be diligent in doing what it takes to run the office of prothonotary.

Meanwhile, incumbent Patty Suders Fix related she was fortunate in taking office 16 years ago to receive extensive assistance from a veteran staff. Now in the process of training a relatively new staff herself, Fix stated a trainer is not available to come to the office to help newly elected officials learn how to file and maintain the office's documents in an effective, accurate and timely manner.

In 2008, the office of prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills, recorder of deeds and clerk of orphans' court generated revenue in the amount of $702,657. The office is also directly responsible for the docket of civil, criminal and juvenile issues as well as the recording of deeds, mortgages and subdivisions.

Fix closed out the evening leaving the audience with an endorsement from county District Attorney Travis Kendall stating, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Patty Suders Fix does an exceptional job at a difficult and constantly evolving task-recording, managing and providing access to court and other public records. Why would we risk change?"

Fellow Republican candidates Pete Ford, jury commissioner, and Edgar Yates, Southern Fulton School Board, both thanked the audience for their support and asked for additional backing during the upcoming May 19 election.

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