Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Just in Case You’ve Been Distracted by the Academy Awards or Something,

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 24, 2015

No. 1,124

Judge Kistler Image: Pennlive.com

Judge Kistler
Image: Pennlive.com

Here’s a news story from the Trib you may have missed about how there probably won’t be any interim nominations this year to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Centre County President Judge Thomas Kistler states that he can’t afford to leave his present position, since the Centre County Common Pleas Court is also short-handed.

So, the deal is off. Nominating just one justice would potentially deadlock the court at 6-6.

However, the Trib article clearly implies that the real reason for the turn-down is that Judge Kistler doesn’t want to be required to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee why he forwarded a certain Christmas card to his friends in 2013. It shows a black couple hugging during a jail visit and says “Merry Christmas from the Johnsons.”

The Judge acknowledges that he forwarded the card to about 22 people, stating that it illustrates the hardship upon families of incarceration during the holiday. Not surprisingly, there are people who don’t believe that explanation.  And some of them would be very happy to testify at the confirmation hearings, inviting the national press to cover the story. The term “media circus” come to mind.

Of course, the Judge, together with his co-nominee, Dean Kenneth Gormley of Duquesne Law School, would almost certainly be confirmed. They have excellent qualifications. But would the game be worth the candle?




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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