August 12, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

39 candidates fight for 9 Allegheny County Common Pleas judicial seats

Voters on Tuesday will have the chance to impact the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court’s future as nine seats are up for election.

Thirty-nine candidates are vying for 10-year positions on the bench. Judges earn $189,794. Although there is a large slate of candidates this year, it’s not even close to the 1973 primary. That year, there were 66 candidates trying for 10 seats.

Below are the candidates for this year’s election (in the order that they appear on the ballot), with biographical information as they’ve provided, as well as a statement as to why they believe they are the best person qualified for the court.

For more information, each candidate’s website and Allegheny County Bar Association Judiciary Committee ratings are included as well. The committee does not provide an explanation for how it reaches each candidates’ rating. However, it does say that a person who is highly recommended “exhibits pre-eminence in the law by way of outstanding legal ability and a wide range of experience, either in a specialized field of law or a more varied practice, and has a reputation in the legal community as standing at the top of his or her profession.”

A candidate who earns a “recommended” rating “possesses a reputation for the utmost integrity and the legal ability, experience and temperament to excel as a judge of the court for which he or she is a candidate.”

The rating “not recommended at this time” means that a candidate’s legal ability, experience and reputation indicate that, at some future time in his or her legal career, he or she may have the potential to excel as a judge, but the candidate is not yet at that stage.”

For those who receive the “unqualified” rating, the committee found that “the candidate does not now possess and is not likely to acquire the ability, reputation or temperament necessary for a judicial position.”

Courtesy of Alyssa Cowan

Alyssa Cowan


Alyssa Cowan, Hampton

Current practice area: Juvenile Law

Current position: Assistant County Solicitor, Allegheny County Law Department

Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2004

Family: Spouse, David Cowan; Daughter, Annie Cowan, 13; and son, Liam Cowan, 11

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I am seeking a position as judge on the Court of Common Pleas to ensure that every family and child interacting with the court system in Allegheny County has access to fair, equitable, effective, and timely justice. In Allegheny County, there are approximately 1,400 children in out of home placements through the child welfare system and 1,600 secure detention admissions though the juvenile delinquency system. Children in both systems deserve timely and appropriate interventions focused on ensuring their safety and maintaining their well-being. Over the course of my career, I have developed the skill set needed to make a valuable contribution as judge.

I am unique from the other candidates because as a professional with both a law degree and a master’s degree in social work, I am able to navigate the complex legal and emotional aspects of working in the family division. I have local, state, national and international experience in child welfare law. My goal as a judge would be for families to have the opportunity to be heard on a level playing field, to leave their hearings with confidence in the system, and to have peace with the result whether it’s their preferred outcome or not.”



Courtesy of Lisa Middleman

Lisa Middleman


Lisa Middleman, Franklin Park

Age: 59 years old

Current practice area: Mainly criminal law

Past practice area: Civil, Family, Criminal

“I have represented victims, witnesses in both Common Pleas Court and grand jury proceedings, and those accused. I have handled thousands of cases, trying at least 500 to verdict, with about a third of them jury trials. In the last 20 years, I have tried homicide and death penalty cases almost exclusively for the Public Defender’s Office while maintaining a small private practice.

Current position: Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender, Major Felony Unit; private practice

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1987

Family: divorced with 2 children: Madison, 24 and Matthew, 28.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“My 34 years of experience in successfully preparing and trying the most complex and life-altering cases, and in directing the teams involved in that endeavor, have provided me with the opportunity to research and present arguments regarding the effects that violence, mental health problems, poverty, trauma and addiction can have, not only on individuals, but on families, victims, and the neighborhoods in which they live.

Trying these cases has trained me to participate in highly charged and emotional situations – maintaining my compassion for people who are hurting, while fulfilling my responsibility to provide vigorous, well researched, and composed representation. This training will prove invaluable if I am to be elected to the bench.

Years of extensive experience with the rules of evidence and rules of procedure in various trial courts in western Pennsylvania have provided me with a framework upon which I can continue to build, to ensure that proper rulings will be made on potentially case dispositive issues. I have demonstrated not only my ability to work very hard to resolve complex issues, but also my deep appreciation of the significance that my judgment may have, not only on the people who appear before me, but also on the community.”



Courtesy of Bruce Beemer

Bruce Beemer


Bruce Beemer, Bradford Woods

Current practice area: Judge, Criminal Division, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

Past practice area: Criminal and Civil

University of Pittsburgh School of Law ‘95

Family: wife, Jodi, son, Jackson, daughter, Jordan

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I believe I possess a unique combination of experience, skills and temperament that aid my ability as a judge. I spent 15 years in a courtroom as an advocate and have tried over 100 cases to a jury verdict, developing a strong understanding of courtroom procedure and rules. As the 49th Attorney General of Pennsylvania and as the Inspector General of Pennsylvania, I ran large government agencies, managing hundreds of people and multitudes of issues. This has allowed me to manage my very heavy trial docket in an organized and efficient way.

The positions I have held in government have forced me to make decisions, often subject to public scrutiny, that required a degree of moral courage. A judge must be willing to fairly apply the facts to the law, regardless of public outcry or criticism. My experiences have evidenced a willingness to make hard decisions that I believe are fair and just, irrespective of any collateral consequences. I also believe I possess an even temperament, and that I provide a calm and experienced demeanor to all those who appear before me.”



Courtesy of Jason Cervone

Jason Cervone


Jason J. Cervone, North Side Pittsburgh

Age: 47

Current practice area: Civil litigation, commercial financing and general counseling for small regional businesses for past 20 years

Current position: Member, Burns White, LLC

West Virginia University College of Law, 2000; Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law LLM 2019

Family: Married with two children

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“My willingness to work hard for the hard working people of this county makes me the best candidate for judge. The first distinction I would point to is my life experience growing up the son of a Pittsburgh Public School teacher and a Teamster. I graduated from Oliver High School and playing football there gave me the opportunity to attend Westminster College on a football scholarship which presented me with many opportunities. This leads to my second aspect that distinguishes me and that is my education. I double majored at Westminster College while playing football all four years. After taking a year off and becoming a Union laborer (local 373) I then attended West Virginia College of Law where I graduated in the top 10{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} of my class. Finally, I have a master’s in tax law from Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.

I am licensed in three states and have practiced civil litigation in over 10 different jurisdictions at both the state and federal levels. I have not been confined to Allegheny County in my practice, and that has provided me with a unique experience to see different aspects of different court systems. I am also a youth football coach and a WPIAL football official.”



Courtesy of Tiffany Sizemore

Tiffany Sizemore


Tiffany Sizemore, Churchill

Age: 43

Current practice area: Juvenile Delinquency, Education

Past practice area: Criminal Defense (Public Defender)

Current position: Assistant Clinical Professor, Duquesne University School of Law

Howard University School of Law, cum laude (2004)

Family: In a committed relationship, no children; mom is a retired teacher who lives in Wilkinsburg, dad was a short order cook who is deceased

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended

“I am a 16-year courtroom veteran with critical litigation experience that will make me ready to hear cases on Day One. More importantly, however, I have extensive policy experience working with both system and community stakeholders to improve and reform our courts. I have not just spent my career working on cases and going home, but I have dedicated my time outside of working hours trying to work to solve the larger problems that we have in those systems. I am an innovator who built a legal clinic that uniquely serves the needs of our region’s young people. I am a native Pittsburgher with a deeply diverse lived and professional experience who will bring all of it to the bench to preside over cases.”



Courtesy of Elliot Howsie

Elliot Howsie


Elliot Howsie, Churchill

Current practice area: Family Division and Criminal Division

Past practice area: Criminal court matters

Current position: Judge of the Court of Common Pleas

Duquesne University School of Law, 1998

Family: Married to Melissa Arnold; two sons, Elliot and Evan, two dogs, Cody and Daisy

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I am one of only two candidates in this race that was appointed to serve as judge in the Court of Common Pleas because of the work that I’ve done. I believe my background, including growing up in a low-income community and working in the social service field, has given me a perspective and an understanding of the issues that typically result in members of our communities becoming involved in the court system. My experience, working as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, has taught me the importance of listening to both sides of each case before making a decision.

As the director of the Public Defender’s office, I had to develop the ability to work well with others and work with stakeholders with competing goals and objectives. I also had to make informed decisions, while understanding and appreciating the consequences associated with those decisions. Finally, as a judge assigned to the family division and the criminal division, I have had to remain fair and impartial while making difficult decisions that impact people’s lives. I believe that my work ethic, my temperament, my perspective, my life experience, as well as my work experience have prepared me to continue to serve as a member of the judiciary.”



Courtesy of Rick Hosking

Rick Hosking


Rick Hosking, Upper St. Clair

Age: 65

Current practice: civil trial lawyer, solo practitioner

Past practice: 1980-2019 at K&L Gates LLP

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1980

Family: three daughters, ages 37, 34 and 29; two granddaughters, ages 3 and 2 months

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“I am the best candidate based on my: 1) 40+ years of complex civil trial experience in more than 75 state and federal courts; 2) service as a certified mediator, arbitrator and trial advocacy teacher; 3) national and local recognition for excellence in the legal profession; 4) commitment and service to help create and maintain diversity in the legal profession in my capacities as hiring partner at a very large law firm, and as a member of the bar association’s Committee for Opportunities for Minorities in the Legal Profession; 5) significant service in pro bono cases for numerous classes of persons; 6) lifelong commitment to, and leadership roles in, community and charitable causes and organizations relating to Juvenile Diabetes, United Way, Persons with Disabilities, Boy Scouts, Pitt Law and Dartmouth College; 7) continual commitment to promote equality, diversity, fairness and integrity in the judicial system for all citizens of Allegheny County.”



Courtesy of Ilan Zur

Ilan Zur


Ilan Zur, Squirrel Hill

Age: 48

Current and past practice area: Criminal law

Current position: deputy district attorney, supervisor of the violent crimes, firearms, and narcotics division

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1998

Family: Wife, Lisa Guizzetti Zur, children: Ellie, 8, Benjamin, 6 and Josephine, 3

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“What has motivated me to run for Common Pleas judge is what has motivated my entire career — a passion for justice, a commitment to protecting communities, and the desire to help people.

“I have served the citizens of Allegheny County as a prosecutor for the past 22 years; the majority of which has been devoted to the prosecution of homicide cases. As a homicide prosecutor, I gained significant trial experience, which helped me develop a thorough knowledge of the law, trial advocacy and courtroom procedure. Equally as important, however, is the perspective and insight I have gained in my 22-year career. I have learned to always keep an open mind and to consider all the facts before making a decision that could affect someone’s life. Not everyone who is arrested for a crime should be branded a criminal; sometimes people just make mistakes and are deserving of another chance.

In addition to experience and perspective, I have also learned the importance of humility. I will treat everyone in my courtroom with respect and I will serve with the awareness that court proceedings are not about the judge, they’re about the people before the judge.”



Courtesy of Beth Tarasi Sinatra

Beth Tarasi Sinatra


Beth Tarasi Sinatra, Bell Acres

Age: 61

Current and past practice area: Civil Litigation, personal injury, real estate, environmental, complex litigation

Current position: Partner

Duquesne University School of Law, 1991

Family: I am the middle of six children to parents Patricia and Louis M. Tarasi Jr., who are 90 and still going strong. Two adults sons, Ted, 30, and Ben, 28. Married to Tony Sinatra for 17 years.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time.


“I have 30 years of trial, litigation and courtroom experience. I have represented thousands of clients to successfully navigate their legal problems. I am only one of two candidates in the race who has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America. I am the only candidate to have an AV Preeminent Rating by the Judges and Peers. These ratings are earned. These are not political ratings, these ratings are blind ratings and are earned after many years of practicing law. Any attorney with these ratings is at the top of their game in all respects. These ratings are the gold star in the legal industry. In addition to years of experience and being recognized for excellence in the law, I am compassionate, even-tempered, and committed to the law, and the ethical standards of the profession. At this point in my 30-year career, I would like to spend my last 14 years helping as many people as I possibly can. Yes my husband Tony Sinatra is related to Frank Sinatra.”



Courtesy of Thomas Caulfield

Thomas Caulfield


Tom Caulfield, Forest Hills

Age: 54

Current area of practice: I have been a full-time Magisterial District Judge since 2010

Past practice area: Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender, 1992-2010, primarily representing clients in the criminal division. From 1991 until 2004, solo practice representing clients in civil cases, landlord and tenant actions, family law cases, juvenile court proceedings, and hearings before Pennsylvania administrative bodies, mostly dealing with unemployment claims.

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1991

Family: wife, Lisa Caulfield; five children between the couple, all boys, including two named Alex. Their ages range from 14 to 30.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“My unique qualifications set me apart from the other candidates. For over a decade, I have been a Magisterial District Judge, deciding thousands of cases that touch on every area of the law that a Common Pleas Court judge deals with. I have presided over cases from traffic violations to criminal homicide. The litigants before me, whether involved in a serious criminal case, a civil suit, a landlord-tenant issue or a summary traffic case, are dealing with a major life event, and I treat them as such.

As an attorney for the public defender, I saw firsthand how the criminal justice system treats poor people – especially African Americans. For 19 years, I fought for the rights of the accused. Until 2004, my solo practice afforded me the opportunity to appear in many of the surrounding counties. Learning the procedures in other jurisdictions broadened my skills.

Outside of the justice system, I have been active in the community for many years. I was a youth sports coach, and was very active in my church. I was twice elected to Churchill Borough Council, and was council president. Additionally, I was a legislative assistant for my state representative for 12 years.”



Courtesy of Chuck Porter

Chuck Porter


Chuck Porter, Shaler

Age: 63

Current practice area: Criminal Defense

Past practice area: Criminal, Family, Civil

Current position: Defense Attorney in private practice since 1987

Duquesne University School of Law, 1985, Law Review

Family: four daughters: Ellen Revay, Emily Porter, Elizabeth Porter and Alexandra Porter-Vrbanic

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended

“I began my career as an assistant district attorney where I represented the commonwealth in pretrial and trial manners. I have practiced in each division during my career but have primarily been a criminal defense lawyer throughout my private practice, including accepting court appointments. I have tried numerous jury trials in both the state and federal court systems throughout my 36 years of being a trial lawyer. I have been recognized by my peers as one of the best trial lawyers in America since 2006. Only two of the 39 candidates have achieved such a recognition. I’ve also represented the DA’s office in civil matters.

“I have also served in the past as a judicial law clerk for three different common pleas court judges in both the criminal and civil divisions for approximately 30 years while maintaining a private practice. I have successfully represented many high profile clients. I have been in multi-defendant, multi-week trials. I served as co-lead counsel on the LAW gang federal prosecution along with Bruce Antkowiak. Bruce said that I have established myself as the preeminent federal criminal defense attorney in this area. Another of my colleagues said that I was the most qualified judicial candidate that he has seen in his 32 years of practice. A prominent civil lawyer who I met while appearing on the opposite side of a civil lawsuit called me a lawyer’s lawyer. I have tremendous support from the bar and from law enforcement, because they recognize that I am fair and even handed. I have the experience and ability to immediately take on a trial schedule. “



Courtesy of Wrenna Watson

Wrenna Watson


Wrenna Watson, the Hill District

Current practice area: Mental Health Hearing Officer and Attorney and Counselor at Law, General Practice of Law

Past practice area: Judge of the Minor Judiciary and Attorney and Counselor at Law, General Practice of Law with a focus representing children in delinquency and dependency hearings and school matters; Judge of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court; PA Liquor Control Board Hearing Officer for W. PA and Erie; simultaneous Chair of City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustments (8 years); 26 years as Mental Health Hearing Officer for Orphans’ Court Division Court of Common Pleas; Solicitor to the Office of the Allegheny County Controller (8 years); Legislative Director – Pittsburgh City Council; Assistant General Counsel and Section 8 Hearing Officer – Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh; Law Clerk – Court of Common Pleas

Duquesne University School of Law, 1991

Family: Daughter, Michelle Watson; Father, the Honorable Judge J. Warren Watson, 98; Mother, Roberta N. Watson (deceased) and Carole A. (Eckstine) Watson (deceased)

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“I represented thousands of children and families. As judge of the Minor Judiciary, I adjudicated more than 50,000 cases over 26 years. I sat as judge of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court (presided over criminal, domestic violence, child sex assault, underage drinking, occasional homicide, traffic, housing, dog court, arraignments, set bail, issued warrants); as PA LCB Hearing Officer; the 1st Black to simultaneously chair Pittsburgh City Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustments (8 years); and am a mental health hearing officer for 26 years.

I was a single mother and live with my 98-year-old father as caretaker. I understand the difficulties persons with drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues and their families face.

My combined attorney and judicial experience complemented by my well-rounded understanding of life gives rise to the ability as judge to apply the law which a judge is bound to do and to exercise wisdom in decision making. It is important to be fair and to provide the opportunity to be heard. My reputation: I am fair, listen to both sides of the case, and treat people with respect. I have done so for 26 years. Reform begins with judges that apply the law, have wisdom, exercise fairness, equal treatment, good temperament and respect. Others say I have the commitment, dedication and heart for children, families and our communities to sit the bench.”



Courtesy of Chelsa Wagner

Chelsa Wagner


Chelsa Wagner, North Point Breeze

Age: 43

Current practice areas have been within my role as elected County Controller (public advocacy including legislative review and research, contract review and compliance, management of audits; notable areas of work have included healthcare access and environmental justice, as well as specific work in criminal justice and jail reform)

Past practice areas have spanned litigation & general practice (employment, immigration, business matters & beyond). Previously, state representative), public interest law. Prior to law school, analyst for American Management Systems to large state and municipal governments across the U.S.)

Currently serving as Allegheny County Controller

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2005

Family: Husband, Khari Mosley; two sons, Thaddeus, 11, Isaiah, 9

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“In addition to demonstrated legal ability, across many areas of the law (and not just one singular practice area), I believe what sets me apart is the breadth and depth of my leadership experience, especially in terms of advocacy efforts that have impacted the largest groups of people and my expertise in the government setting. Within that frame of leadership, I would also point to my demonstrated independence and ability to work across what some consider to be divides, as uniquely shown through my record. Though I don’t tout endorsements for name’s sake, I think it is important to see how that independence is demonstrated in the endorsements I have received (e.g., I am the only candidate to receive the endorsement of the Democratic Party, Labor, and the Just Justice Slate, made up of Unite/Straight Ahead (Abolitionist Law Center)/1 Hood/ Alliance for Police Accountability)

“Within my experiences, I have been responsible for complex administrative duties, and have achieved numerous benchmarks (and received awards for that work) for improving the technical workings of seemingly intractable, massive government bureaucracies. In an era where every single candidate out of a full field of 39 is speaking to the need for some degree of reform (not just criminal justice, but larger access issues across all divisions), I am the only candidate who has spearheaded major reforms within government and shepherded them to fruition. My depth of government experience, including five years as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the State House, drafting legislation, and working with interest groups ranging from business, higher education, grassroots advocacy, foundations and government, are part of the unique track record I have that many have agreed would be absolutely necessary to achieving the reforms discussed across the platforms of the 39-candidate field.”



Courtesy of George Heym

George Heym


George Heym, Squirrel Hill

Age: 52

Current Practice Area: Criminal Defense

Past Practice Area. Assistant District Attorney at Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office – Child abuse and homicide prosecutor

Current Position: Owner The Law Offices of George Heym

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1998, cum laude

Family: My wife is an attending physician at UPMC Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh. We have a 15-year old daughter, 12-year old twin boys and two dogs.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I have spent nearly every day over the last 20 plus years in the courtroom. I have done over 100 jury trials and hundreds of non-jury trials. I am rated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association.”



Courtesy of Matt Rogers

Matt Rogers


Matt Rogers, Mt. Lebanon

Age: 37

Current practice area: Family Law

Past practice area: General Practice, Judicial Law Clerk

Current position: I am an attorney with Raphael, Ramsden & Behers.

Duquesne University School of Law, 2008

Family: Wife, Monica; one son

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“I am a good candidate because of my focus on family law. The Family Law Division of the court of Common Pleas is often seen as a less desirable destination than the other divisions because of the difficult subject matter it addresses. This means that judges will be assigned to the division, sometimes as a second or third choice, and then leave as soon as they can. This creates instability and turmoil for the families who have cases [there.] This also means that deep-rooted problems in the division, such as systemic racism and bias against those without the means to secure representation, are often overlooked. I plan to fix that. I have over 10 years of experience with family law. Because of that experience I will be able to hear cases and confidently rule on day one. I also will stay in the Family Law Division. I will not leave it as soon as I can, and intend to become a stable presence for Allegheny County families as they navigate the court system. We can have a better family law court than we currently have, and I would be honored if the voters put their trust in me, on May 18, to go fix it.”



Courtesy of Nicola Henry-Taylor

Nicola Henry-Taylor


Nicola Henry-Taylor, Ross

Age: 49

Current practice area: Criminal and Family Law; Guardian Tracking System Coordinator for Butler County; Federal Criminal Justice Act Panel Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania

Past practice area: Assistant District Attorney, Mental Health Court, Social Security Disability, Asbestos Litigation, Orphan’s Court Counsel to Alleged Incapacitated, Federal Criminal Justice Act Panel, Workers Compensation, Civil Litigation

Current position: Attorney, Henry-Taylor Law, PC; Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Duquesne University School of Law

Duquesne University School of Law, 1996

Family: Married to Robert Taylor, a retired Correctional Officer who worked at Western Penitentiary before retiring. Two adopted children in the 11th grade and 8th grade.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I believe that in addition to my 25 years of experience practicing law, my perspectives as an immigrant, woman of color, and adoptive mother, are unique and needed, on the Court of Common Pleas, as we face challenging times with implicit and systemic bias and in our justice system.

“I have had the opportunity to work in every division in the court, a variety of settings such as government, large firms and academia. I have been rated Highly Recommended by the Bar Association. Further, I have been fortunate to work with wonderful judges such as when I interned for the Honorable Justin M. Johnson of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In 1996, I was hired by the Honorable Charles R. Alexander of the Clarion County Court of Common Pleas and also clerked for the Honorable Thomas Doerr in Butler County.

“I serve my community in my roles as the Diversity Director for Duquesne University School of Law, a Commissioner on the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission and a member of the newly formed Allegheny County Bar Association Ad hoc Committee to Examine Police Use of Force and Court Rules for Bail, Probation and Incarceration. Protecting families and reform of the criminal justice system is a lifelong mission.”



Courtesy of Brian Malkin

Brian Malkin


Brian Samuel Malkin, Franklin Park

Age: 55

Current practice area: Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Business Litigation, General Practice

Past practice area: General Practice, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Insurance Defense

Current position: Principal Attorney for Ference & Associates LLC and Franklin Park Borough Councilman

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1993

Family: wife, Christina Malkin, three daughters, ages, 16, 15 and 13.


Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended

“I have 27 years of trial experience preparing for the job of trial judge. I have been counsel on hundreds of cases over the years, including car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, business disputes, and landlord tenant and discrimination claims. I am a 2021 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and I am recommended to be a judge by the Bar Association. My endorsements include, Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Political Club, as well elected progressive officials. I worked for the Environmental Advisory Council and the Zoning and Hearing Board, and chaired both of these during my service.

In 2019, I was elected to the Franklin Park Borough Council. For clients in need, I have donated countless hours. I have worked for the Allegheny County Housing Court for folks with no lawyer. I have fought for the rights of folks who are injured, have disabilities, were discriminated against, and the unemployed. I fight for rights of the underprivileged and underserved. We need progress in our courts and our communities and, if elected, I will bring it., I have the education, courtroom experience, community service and awards, reputation among my peers, and temperament to be an excellent judge.”



Courtesy of Mark Patrick Flaherty

Mark Patrick Flaherty


Mark Patrick Flaherty, Mt. Lebanon


Current practice area: General,Government Corporate

Past practice area:Finance

Current position: Attorney

Duquesne University School of Law 2001

Family: Wife, Anne; daughter Deirdre

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I want to use my 20 years of legal experience and experience as Allegheny County Controller to bring about meaningful judicial reform and upgrades to our 21st-century judicial system. When I was controller, I was able to reform the assessment office, upgrade county government and reduce the jail population. I want to bring that reform experience to our judicial system to help all parties make it work better.”



Courtesy of Marc Daffner

Marc Daffner


Marc Daffner, Green Tree

Name: Marc Daffner, Green Tree

Age: 52

Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, Family Law, Commercial Litigation

Current Position: Owner and Managing Partner of Daffner & Associates, P.C.

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1993

Family: Married; three daughters, ages 14, 7 and 5

Allegheny County Bar Association Rating: recommended


“My legal practice has taken me into hundreds of courtrooms in thousands of legal matters over the years, across our commonwealth and in all levels of our courts. This has given me a unique perspective in that, I have seen and experienced the best and the worst that our court system has to offer in a wide variety of contexts and I know how to apply the most appropriate mechanisms to address the issues which we face here in Allegheny County. I have been honored as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer (top 5{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} in the state) as well as a National Trial Lawyers “Top-100 trial lawyer.”

I am regularly asked to serve as a Continuing Legal Education instructor, and I have authored two law-related books as well as numerous other publications. Further, I have experienced serving from the bench as an administrative judge during a six-year appointed term as chair of the civil service commission, and I have had to develop the ability to courteously and conscientiously hear cases and provide learned, well-researched decisions. Accordingly, I believe that I am very well positioned to serve as a judge, bringing my unique experiences with me to do what every judge is charged with doing at the proverbial ‘end of the day’ – being a true servant of the public.”



Courtesy of Pauline Calabrese

Pauline Calabrese


Pauline Calabrese, Penn Hills (Crescent Hills)

Age: 58

Current Practice Area: Family Law

Past Practice Area: Civil, Criminal and Estate Law

Current Position: Partner at the law firm of Notaro Calabrese & Epstein

Duquesne University School of Law, 1988

Family: Married with 5 children

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time

Candidate website:

“I have practiced in all four divisions of the Court of Common Pleas, representing clients in jury and non-jury trials over a 30-year career. However, I have dedicated my career to advocating in family court, where new Common Pleas judges are traditionally placed. My decades of family court experience will equip me to hit the ground running from day one.

I understand how to empathize with citizens and provide real solutions to problems from serving as the mayor of Penn Hills, the largest and most diverse municipality outside the City of Pittsburgh, with a budget of over $30 million. I have direct experience making tough decisions and impacting change in my community. As a mother of five, soon to be an empty nester as my youngest graduates high school this month, I have become well versed in conflict resolution, traits that have served me well at the dinner table as well as the courtroom.

I would be honored to put my tradition of service and protecting families to work for the residents of Allegheny County as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas.”



Courtesy of Billy Caye

Billy Caye


William “Bill” Caye, South Fayette

Age: 53

Current practice area: criminal and juvenile trial and defense litigation.

Past practice area: senior deputy attorney general criminal trial prosecution section, western region.

Current position: founding & managing member William F. Caye II, LLC – Professional, Legal & Consulting Services.

Duquesne University School of Law, 1993, JURIS, Editor.

Family: wife, Tammy Gaydos Caye; sons, Billy and Adam Caye; and Lulu, our pet Havanese dog

Allegheny County Bar Association Rating: recommended

“People from all walks of life, including several trial court judges, have been consistently placing their trust in my knowledge, credible expertise, legal research and advocacy abilities, as well as my balanced reasoning and sense of equitable judgment to investigate, analyze and solve difficult problems and complex disputes impacting others with fairness in all areas of the judicial system from all perspectives for over 27 years of proven results in court rooms all across Pennsylvania. This diverse professional work experience, leadership and integrity make me uniquely qualified to best serve all the citizens of Allegheny County as a common pleas court judge with transformative vision, a dedicated work ethic, fidelity, impartiality and compassion.”



Courtesy of Jessel Costa

Jessel Costa


Jessel Costa, South Side Slopes

Age: 34

Current practice area: private practice specializing in criminal defense, court-appointed criminal matters, and petitions under the Post Conviction Relief Act

Past practice area: Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender; deputy attorney general, prosecuting child sexual abuse and child pornography. Additionally, Jessel has worked as a volunteer election protection coordinator— working to ensure elections across the state are fair and accessible to all — since 2012.

Current position: Attorney, Attisano & Romano

Duquesne University School of Law, 2012

Family: Jessel is engaged to illustrator, Erin Kenna. They have a puppy, Huey

Allegheny County Bar Association Rating: unqualified


“Jessel possesses experience that few other attorneys normally see over their careers. Working on both sides of a trial—as a public defender and a prosecutor – he’s managed every aspect of a case from the investigatory stage through a jury verdict.

“From his work in more than 20 counties throughout western Pennsylvania, Jessel has gained a holistic, comprehensive understanding of our legal system. He understands what works and what doesn’t work, and he’s uniquely prepared to employ those best practices here in Allegheny County.

“Finally, Jessel is one of the few candidates offering concrete ideas to implement criminal justice reforms; including

• Automatic bail review in criminal cases—while magistrate judges set bail, common pleas judges should quickly review those decisions and make changes necessary to prevent citizens from languishing in jail pre-trial;

• An increase in the number of diversionary court programs and more inclusive admissions criteria for those programs

• Strategies that focus on rehabilitation over incarceration should be the default for citizens interacting with the criminal justice system

• Sentencing reforms that treat incarceration as a last resort.”



Courtesy of Daniel Konieczka

Daniel Konieczka


Daniel J. Konieczka Jr., Shaler

Age: 60

Current practice area: Magisterial District Judge, Shaler, Etna, Millvale and Reserve

Past practice area: Prosecutor (1987-2011) and Criminal Defense (2011-2018)

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1986

Family: Married 34 years to Maureen Barrett; oldest of eight children and “favorite” uncle to 19 nephews and nieces

Allegheny County Bar Association Rating: highly recomended


“I humbly believe I am qualified because of my 34 years of courtroom experience. The courtroom is my second home. Twenty-three years as a deputy district attorney supervising the violent crimes, firearms and felony narcotics unit, where I personally prosecuted or supervised the prosecution of hundreds of violent offenders. Then, nearly 8 years as a law partner, concentrating on criminal defense in local, state and federal courtrooms. Now as a Magisterial District Judge serving Shaler, Etna, Millvale and Reserve.

During the mid-1990s, I served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the investigation, indictment and prosecution of the violent street gang, LAW. It was the first time the federal RICO statute was used to prosecute a violent street gang. In 1998, I was honored to receive the US Attorney’s Director’s Award for superior performance.

Currently, as a magisterial district judge, I regularly preside over civil, landlord/tenant, traffic and summary hearings. In addition, I conduct criminal preliminary hearings on a weekly basis.

Being the oldest of eight children, I grew up with a sense of protectiveness that has carried over into my professional career, now protecting the rights of everyone entering my courtroom.”



Courtesy of Rosemary Crawford

Rosemary Crawford


Rosemary Crawford, Hampton

Age: 57

Current Practice Area: contracts, litigation, bankruptcy, corporate transactions, business law, labor and employment law

Past Practice Area: family law, juvenile law, tax law, vaccine itigation, landlord and tenant

Position: trial attorney, certified mediator and arbitrator and bankruptcy trustee

Georgetown Law School, 1989

Family: Proud mother to Athena and Zeus

Allegheny County Bar Association Rating: highly recommended


“I am the best candidate based on my 31 years of legal experience, public service and my ability to be fair and just in a compassionate manner while treating everyone with dignity and respect. I am rated highly recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association Judiciary Committee based on my preeminence in the law. I have a lifetime of public service providing free legal services for the poor, promoting justice with programs like the 100 Lawyer Program, Neighborhood Legal Services & Pennsylvania Legal Services; and helping shape mediation in our region with my past participation on the Federal Advisory Rules Committee. Also, I am dedicated to community service via mentoring children and young adults and advocating for justice and equality. I advocate for those suffering with issues stemming from autism, opioid addiction, injustice and foster care. I will use my programming experience to work with community groups in order to restore justice for all citizens, with things such as Zoom court appearances so that working people don’t have to call off work and find better ways for people without attorneys to have access to the court system.”



Courtesy of Andy Szefi

Andy Szefi


Andy Szefi, Mt. Lebanon

Age: 49

Current practice area:Litigation, municipal, family law, elections, real estate

Past practice area:Litigation, municipal, zoning and land use

Current position:Allegheny County Solicitor

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1999

Family: Wife, Melissa Gilmore Szefi; three children

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I am qualified, experienced and tested. As the Chief Legal Officer for Allegheny County and director of the Allegheny County Law Department for the past nine years, and with 22 years of overall experience, I have engaged in the most diverse law practice in the county. I know our court system inside and out because I work in it, and with it, every day. Defending taxpayer dollars against lawsuits, protecting voting rights, representing the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable are just some of the ways I represent the interests of the county and its 1.2 million residents each day.

“As county solicitor, I am called upon to make the close calls and difficult decisions required to serve those interests, and making close calls is exactly what we ask judges to do. I have the highest recommendation from the Allegheny County Bar Association and I am qualified and prepared to make our courts work for all of us from day one.”



Courtesy of Mik Pappas

Mik Pappas


Mik Pappas, Highland Park

Age: 39

Past practice area: Criminal and civil rights litigation

Current position: Magisterial District Judge

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2014

Family: Wife; two children, ages 3 and 11

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I am a proven leader for justice system reform, with a clear vision for making our system more equitable and cost-effective for all of Allegheny County. I understand what people are going through because my lived experiences include recovering from the trauma of domestic violence, having an incarcerated parent, and losing loved ones to gun violence and addiction. As a magisterial district judge, I relied on cash bail in less than 1{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} of 1,000+ bail hearings, helped reduce evictions by 40{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} in 700+ housing cases, and helped reduce truancy convictions by 40{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} in 200+ school attendance cases.

When the pandemic forced our courts to close, I helped to create a countywide community mediation program for landlords and tenants that has a success rate of 95{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477}. As a judge in the court of common pleas, I will work to end mass incarceration in Allegheny County by creating community-based alternatives to cash bail and county probation detainers, stop punishing poverty by replacing fines and fees with community service and job training, and prevent family trauma by expanding access to services that address the root causes of domestic violence.”



Courtesy of Anthony DeLuca

Anthony DeLuca


Anthony DeLuca, Mt. Lebanon

Age: 48

Current practice area: Union side labor law, criminal defense

Past practice area: Clerked for multiple appellate judges

Current position: Partner, Law Firm of DeLuca, Ricciuti and Konieczka

University of Pittsburgh, 1997, magna cum laude

Family: Wife, Hollie; three children, ages, 12, 10, 7

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I am highly recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association. I am the only candidate that has worked closely with all three of the main participants in the criminal hustice system: victims, defendants and their families, and law enforcement. Having represented all three of these groups at various points in my career, I have a uniquely balanced perspective on the people drawn into the court system. I have a better understanding of who is dangerous and should be incarcerated, and who needs treatment without incarceration. By understanding the stresses and burdens of those involved in the system, I will be in a position through programs and rulings to further the goal of justice for all.

“I was a major participant in the development of Allegheny County’s mental health court and continue to work with individuals charged with crimes who have mental health challenges. Therefore, I have direct real-world experience in treating non-violent offenders instead of warehousing them in prison.

“Finally, while other candidates in Western Pennsylvania have relatives and ancestors who are or were union members, I am the only candidate in this judicial race who has spent a substantial portion of his or her career fighting for better wages, healthcare and paid time off for working families as a union labor attorney.”



Courtesy of Zeke Rediker

Zeke Rediker


Zeke Rediker, Squirrel Hill

Age: 33

Current practice area: Commercial litigation, pro bono criminal and eviction defense

Past practice area: Former federal trial and appellate court clerk, regulatory and insurance recovery litigation

Current position: Attorney, Reed Smith LLP

Michigan Law School, 2014; Cum Laude; Dean’s Scholar; Race, Law, and History Fellow

Family: wife, Greer; daughter, Leona

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I have national and local experience, having practiced in Washington, D.C., New York City and Detroit, in addition to Pittsburgh. As a federal trial court clerk, I worked on one of the largest trials in the country, the Department of Justice’s prosecution of FIFA for corruption, and as a federal appeals clerk, I helped to adjudicate the civil rights case against the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. My experience as both a trial lawyer and appellate lawyer gives me the worm’s eye view and the bird’s eye view. I am also passionate about my criminal justice reform and fair housing practice, and recently secured the release of an illegally-sentenced client from prison.”



Courtesy of Joseph Patrick Murphy

Joseph Patrick Murphy


Joseph Patrick Murphy, Pine

Age: 51

Current practice area: Consumer Protection, Criminal Defense, Immigration, Personal Injury

Past practice area: I have been doing the same sorts of things for about twenty years now

Current position: Practicing in a two-attorney law firm

Duquesne University Law School, 1998

Family: Wife and two sons

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I would like to think that I am one of the best candidates, but that is up to the voters. What I can say is that I care deeply about people. My entire career has been about representing people. I was never a prosecutor, or foreclosure attorney, I represented people. I never put anyone in jail, rather, I fought hard to keep people out of jail, and I am not ashamed of it. When the big banks came to Pennsylvania with high interest predatory credit card lawsuits and strong arm tactics, I gave them the roughest time I could, and I saved millions of dollars for the citizens of Pennsylvania. People have a strong desire for fairness, it is the whole reason that society created the court system. If people even suspect that the courts won’t be fair they will resort to their own devices and you will have social unrest. Judges who lack discipline and dedication to the law risk destroying the public trust required. I will be a humble, patient, fair judge who is dedicated to the law.”



Courtesy of Giuseppe Rosselli

Giuseppe Rosselli


Giuseppe Rosselli, Sewickley

Age: 46

Current and past practice area: Criminal Defense

Current position: criminal defense attorney with the Law Office of Giuseppe GC Rosselli

Law School and graduation year: 2000

Family: wife, Brandi; two children, Evie and Sophie

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“This election is about addressing the desperate need for reform in the criminal justice system.

“An imbalance exists within our justice system for communities of color, the poor, the LGBTQ community and other marginalized communities. Judges should be connected with those communities above and beyond the moment when judicial intervention is required. Our elected officials are often disconnected with those that walk through our courtroom doors. Accordingly, they are either unfamiliar with or unmoved by the circumstances that brought one into the system.

I have spent the past 22 representing the accused in Allegheny County. I have tried every case from Disorderly Conduct to Homicide. I understand the generational obstacles that have created an environment that increases the likelihood of reoffense, which has led me to represent the children and grandchildren of my first clients. I believe we should invest in people in an effort to build them up and avoid the generational cycle of recidivism that permeates our current system.

In addition to my professional career, my personal background contributes to my connection. I was raised by a 17 year old mother and an African-American step father. I have two bi-racial sisters and my wife and I are raising two children, one white and one black. I grew up poor. I was the first in my family to graduate high school, the first to go to college and the only to go to law school. Our campaign is run on a message of equality, heart and a true sense of compassion for people. Equality, fairness and the thoughtful administration of justice are my core values and when elected, the citizens of Allegheny County can be certain that those values will not diminish.”



Courtesy of Richard Ernsberger

Richard Ernsberger


Richard Thomas Ernsberger, Oakland

Age: 41

Current practice area: Consumer protection, real estate, and employment litigation

Past practice area: former Pennsylvania Supreme Court judicial clerk, Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance counsel.

Current position: Associate, Behrend & Ernsberger, P.C.

Ohio Northern University School of Law, 2007

Family: unmarried

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“As a third-generation Pittsburgh lawyer, I am thoroughly prepared to be a judge. Acting as a judicial clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, I learned judicial temperament, and was trained as a mediator with the Western District federal court. The family law firm, in which I practice, has won landmark cases resulting in new law. I approach our varied and complex cases with an open mind from their inception until conclusion. In the civil division, I have represented plaintiffs and defendants in cases concerned with consumer protection, real estate disputes, employment discrimination, and personal injury.

I am recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association. I am an Eagle Scout, graduated from Central Catholic High School, earned a B.S. in economics from George Washington University, earned my law degree from Ohio Northern University, interned with the honorable William Coyne, and most recently worked with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance, reviewing disaster assistance loans for individuals and small businesses suffering hardship due to COVID-19 and natural disasters.

My awards include a Fellow with the Allegheny County Bar Association Foundation, Rising Star, Super Lawyer Magazine, and a Junior Achievement Bronze Leadership Award. I taught ethics and bad faith insurance for the Business Law Institute.”



Courtesy of Patrick Sweeney

Patrick Sweeney


Patrick A. Sweeney, North Side

Age: 50

Current practice area: Criminal Defense (Public Defender)

Past practice area: general practice/small firm

Current position: Assistant Public Defender (since 1997)

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 1996

Family: single

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“My experience makes me the best candidate. I have been an attorney with the Public Defender of Allegheny County for over 23 years, starting with the office in 1997. Prior to my work as a public defender in Allegheny County, I was briefly an associate for a small firm in Brookville. It was an invaluable learning experience, which gave me exposure to cases and clients in many different facets of the law, as a small town country lawyer would handle nearly every case that came his way.

I then became an Assistant Public Defender in Allegheny County and have benefitted from a varied experience with the office. I have represented public defender clients in all four divisions of the Court of Common Pleas. I represent defendants charged with any type of criminal offence – from retail theft to homicide. My work has been concentrated in the adult criminal division for the better part of 20 years. By my estimate, I have handled approximately 4,500 to 5,000 cases during my tenure in the trial unit. I have tried close to a few dozen jury trials and hundreds of non-jury trials.

I am also the bargaining unit secretary for the United Steelworkers Local 3403-74, which represents my fellow public defenders, as well as the assistant district attorneys, crime lab scientists, and IT workers in the Department of Court Records.

I am also active in my community, having volunteered with my parish St. Vincent de Paul Society, serving on the board as vice president of my neighborhood association (the Allegheny City Central Association), and am active in the Ancient Order of Hibernians (an Irish Catholic cultural organization). “



Courtesy of G. Clint Kelley

G. Clint Kelley


Clint Kelley, Mt. Lebanon

Current practice: personal injury law

Current position: a sole practitioner with more than 25 years of experience

Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 1988

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: recommended


“It may seem that this year’s election for the Court of Common Pleas is about politics, but it’s really not. Instead, it’s about our court and the administration of justice here in Allegheny County. There are nine judicial vacancies on the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County this year, which is about 20{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} of the total judges on the court. A 20{48802e074c5f965745cb161aba42404553935aa8d7cf9aecda1745fcd7825477} change in the judges on the court makes your vote extremely important. At this moment in time, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County faces an unprecedented backlog of cases that have been on hold due to COVID-19. Because of this, it is essential that the nine new judges have a significant amount of actual trial experience. This way, the new judges can be ready and most prepared to take action and start deciding cases on Day One.”



Courtesy of Albert Veverka

Albert Veverka


Albert Veverka, Mt. Lebanon

Age: 39

Current practice: Criminal and Civil Defense, also practicing in Family and Orphans’ Court

Current position: Shareholder, Dickie, McCamey and Chilcote P.C.

West Virginia College of Law, 2008

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I have the temperament and experience to improve our system of justice. Judges have an immeasurable impact on the lives of those who enter their courtrooms. This impact is not limited to court rulings; people are also affected by a judge’s words, actions and demeanor. Treating people with dignity, kindness and compassion can only ever improve a situation, and yet courtrooms are often tense and uncomfortable. I want to be a judge so that I can create a space where everyone is treated fairly, given second chances where appropriate, and have all of their questions answered. As someone who has served as a prosecutor and defense attorney, I understand the difficulties litigants face when coming into a courtroom and I know I can make a difference in the lives of those facing a difficult situation.”



Courtesy of Brian Flaherty

Brian Flaherty


Brian D. Flaherty, Forest Hills

Age: 58

Current practice area: Complex Litigation

Past practice area: Civil and Criminal Litigation

Current position: Document Review Attorney

Duquesne University School of Law, 1991.

Family: single; never married; no children. One dog and best friend, Vinny, a puggle.

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: unqualified

Candidate Website: N/A

“Although I have never been in politics, my father is Pete Flaherty (deceased), the former Mayor of Pittsburgh and former Allegheny County Commissioner. My dad is my role model. I am honest, independent, intelligent and hard-working. I have litigated cases in both state and federal courts. I have represented clients with various issues in Allegheny County and surrounding counties. I have jury trial experience in both criminal and civil courts. I have successfully argued on appeal. I am familiar with motions practice. I am familiar with the Local Rules, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and the Constitution of the United States. I have drafted many legal documents including petitions, pleadings, motions, memorand and briefs. As a document reviewer, I have reviewed thousands of legal documents. I have drafted court opinions for the Honorable Judge Bernard L. McGinley and the Commonwealth Court. President Joe Biden hired me to do legal research for him when he was the chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. I do not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, national origin, or political party affiliation. If you come to my courtroom, you will be heard.”



Courtesy of Ryan Hemminger

Ryan Hemminger


Ryan O. Hemminger, Elizabeth Township

Age: 43

Current practice area: Commercial and Civil Litigation

Past practice area: Prior to entering private practice, I served as a judicial law clerk to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cappy and Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green. I also practiced in the orphans’ court early in my career.

Current position: Partner with Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, LLC

Duquesne University School of Law, 2005.

Family: wife of 18 years, Leah (Craft) Hemminger; three children, Grace, Isabelle and Lincoln

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I believe in the importance of public service with humility and integrity. I have been privileged to serve my local community as a member of Elizabeth Forward School Board since 2015. I have demonstrated through my professional career and my public service that I have the temperament to be an excellent judge. My strengths are my compassion, decisiveness, commitment to justice under the law for everyone, and work ethic. I believe these traits are necessary to be a great judge. Through my experience litigating cases throughout the United States, I have appeared before many brilliant judges who I will work to emulate if elected. I have also experienced judges that lack one or more of the traits. This can destroy the fundamental principles of due process that litigants are entitled to and tarnish public faith in our legal system. I am committed to the law, and if elected I will humbly serve from the bench as the type of judge litigants deserve and that I would want to be in front of as an advocate.”



Courtesy of Jimmy Sheets

Jimmy Sheets


Jimmy Sheets, Bethel Park

Age: 49

Current position: Criminal Defense, adult and juvenile

Duquesne University School of Law, 1995

Family: father, James Sheets; daughter, Tommie Caslin Sheets; sister Erin Sheets-Geary; sister-in-law Diana Sheets-Geary, niece, Izzy Alice Sheets-Geary

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


“I am the best candidate because of my 20 plus years of experience in the courtroom. During that time, I have built relationships — relationships with my clients and their families, law enforcement, district attorneys, victims advocates, diversionary programs and even in some cases victims. Relationships that have helped me learn and grow as an attorney and a person. I also believe that I would bring life experience to the bench that would allow me to see things from a different point of view than others. I am the best candidate because I’m not running on a platform or promises, but perspective.”



Courtesy of Dean Birdy

Dean Birdy


Dean A. Birdy, Manchester

Age: 63

Current and practice area: small litigation, real estate, assessment appeals, civil and criminal cases.

Current position: attorney at law

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Family: three daughters

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: not recommended at this time


What makes you the best candidate?:

“For over 33-years I have gained trial experience as an attorney in private practice in small litigation, real estate, assessment appeals, civil and criminal cases. I have also sat on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Arbitration panel.

This has prepared me with the full understanding of the laws that govern this state and this county. I was born and raised here in Allegheny County attending the West Mifflin Public Schools. I went to college at Thiel College. My career has allowed me to represent people who have been voiceless and disadvantaged during great parts of the economic or ethnic status. While in law school, I was the president of the Legal Assistance Program, designed to help undergraduate students appear before the University Judicial Board. Upon graduation, I volunteered for the Allegheny County Neighborhood Legal Services program to work on landlord-tenant and unemployment cases. I have done pro-bono work for Christian Legal Aid helping hundreds of residents.

I am running to continue to provide the fairness we need on the bench. Because I am someone who grew up and worked with people from all parts of this county, I will be able to relate to all these individuals from all the communities in Allegheny County as they come before me and I am asked to make judgments. My education and life experiences have given me the tools to be the representative on the bench we need in times like these.”



Courtesy of Sabrina Korbel

Sabrina Korbel


Sabrina Korbel, Ross

Age: 44

Current and past practice area: Family Law attorney with nearly 20 years of trial experience; Expert in the area of domestic violence

Current position: Legal Director, Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2002

Family: husband, Stephen Korbel; daughters, Addison Korbel, 13, Madeleine Korbel, 12; Cavapoo puppy, Mabel, 1½

Allegheny County Bar Association rating: highly recommended


“I am a trauma-informed attorney with nearly 20 years of trial court experience representing victims of domestic violence in over 7,000 cases in the family division. I have devoted my entire legal career to giving our most resource-burdened residents a voice in court; to making our courts more accessible and equitable for everyone; to educating the court about trauma; and to eliminating barriers to justice, particularly economic barriers such as transportation, childcare, loss of employment and the expense of litigation.

As a judge, I will continue to prioritize these efforts and will work as a public servant — always treating people with dignity and respect, striving to recognize the uniqueness of each litigant’s individual needs, authentic story and life circumstances while making compassionate and fair decisions under the law. Finally, I will continue to collaborate with community partners who are doing the real work on the ground in our neighborhoods and our communities and who are most familiar with the needs of the people accessing our justice system so that together we can achieve true systemic change.”

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paula by email at or via Twitter .