Ward's judge credentials defended
A future Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge said his friendship with Gov. Tom Corbett had no bearing on his nomination to the bench, despite some critics who claimed cronyism.
Bill Ward, 60, of Mt. Lebanon, Corbett's chief of staff from January 2011 until last month, told the Tribune-Review his 35-year career as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney and civil litigator bolstered his nomination, not his professional and personal relationship with the governor.
“I'm really very excited to not only be serving on the bench, but also to be coming home,” Ward said.
The state Senate confirmed Ward and five other nominations on Saturday. Court administrators are awaiting paperwork from Harrisburg before Ward can be sworn in. He will be paid $169,541 and serve through 2013.
Though Corbett and Ward took a lashing over the nomination, Ward's former colleagues believe he'll make an outstanding judge.
“He has an unshakable integrity and steady hand under pressure,” said Squirrel Hill District Judge Hugh McGough, who interned with Ward at the Downtown law firm Meyer, Unkovic and Scott in the 1970s and became his partner at Ward McGough LLC. “He's an excellent communicator because he's a thoughtful listener first.”
Some outspoken voices against Ward's nomination have slowed their criticism.
“I originally had a lot of concern with him, although my objections were not based on him personally,” said state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Leach said he initially opposed the nomination because Corbett and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille agreed not to fill vacancies in courts because of a budget shortfall.
Corbett included an additional $1.1 million for the judiciary in the new state budget.
Shira Goodman, deputy director of the nonprofit Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts in Philadelphia, said that group opposed the ”gentleman's agreement” between Corbett and Castille.
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said the governor agreed to not make any appointments for 2011, not 2012. The Tribune-Review could not reach Castille for comment.
Goodman said governors typically nominate candidates with whom they are familiar: “It's not all that unusual the way this played out.”
Legal experts said Ward's experience would have put him on a short list for the bench, regardless of his relationship with the governor.
“He's about as qualified as they get,” said former U.S. Attorney Fred Thieman.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Rossi: Steelers’ season all about going big
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans
- North Catholic High School principal steps down
- Rookie Bryant sparks deep passing game for Steelers in victory
- Hundreds mourn Pittsburgh trash collector killed by gunfire
- Kids evacuated at Mars Area High after electrical fire, no injuries reported
- Steelers notebook: Adams replaces concussed Gilbert
- Chevron puts $20M into educating, training Appalachian workers
- Natrona Bottling Co. keeps soda pop operation focused on craft, taste
- 5 selected thus far for jury in Ferrante trial