The Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention spends weeks investigating judicial candidates, evaluating 10 areas, including legal ability, trial experience, reputation, judicial temperament, and community involvement. It consists of 35 members and employs 120 investigators.
"It's a very labor-intensive process," said bar chancellor Shelly Fedullo, "and at the end of the process, we issue recommendations."
Fedullo said highly recommended candidates are preeminent in their field. She likens it to being an "A student." For a variety of possible reasons, including the decision not to participate in the process, candidates can be rated "not recommended."
The Bar Association does this because judges have considerable power in criminal and civil cases, yet most voters do not think of that power until it's too late.
"This is a very, very big undertaking," said Fedullo, "and it's a service we are happy to provide to the citizens of Philadelphia."
More than two-dozen candidates from the Philadelphia courts and state appeals courts are included in the rankings, which are non-partisan.