2 judges up for 3rd 10-year terms
Westmoreland County voters on Tuesday will decide whether Common Pleas Court judges Richard E. McCormick Jr. and Debra A. Pezze will serve another 10-year term on the bench.
Both judges were first elected in 1991 and retained in 2001. Voters will simply vote "yes" or "no" on whether each should be retained. Both worked as assistant public defenders.
McCormick, 61, of Greensburg, the son of a county judge, spent most of his career hearing criminal cases. He has served in the civil court division for the past two years. McCormick was appointed to the bench in 1990 to fill a vacancy.
"I have gained a level of experience and maturity in the job for the benefit of Westmoreland County," McCormick said.
Pezze, 57, of Greensburg said her job experience is also a plus for voters. She has served nearly her entire career in the criminal court division.
"I've worked in the criminal justice system for 35 years, and my record speaks for itself," Pezze said.
A Tribune-Review analysis in 2009 of Pennsylvania judges' sentences in cases involving sex crimes against children found Pezze imposed sentences below state averages.
Pezze said those statistics were skewed because they reflected plea bargain deals negotiated by county prosecutors.
McCormick became a target of then-Attorney General Tom Corbett when a spokesman for that office criticized the judge for imposing what prosecutors said was a too-lenient sentence in a sex case involving a Delmont man and an undercover officer posing as a teenage girl on the Internet.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and the county bar association came to McCormick's defense and called Corbett's criticism unwarranted.
"I respect the course of law. It was not the attorney general who made those comments, but it was his spokesman," McCormick said.
Pezze also has been the subject of criticism. A website was created detailing several of her rulings that critics deemed questionable.
Pezze said such scrutiny comes with the job.
"I'm in a job that invites criticism. My decisions are based on law and evidence. I've never had a sentence overturned," Pezze said.
Pezze is married to longtime county commission Chairman Tom Balya, a Democrat who is leaving office at the end of the year. Balya has served as commissioner for 16 years.
"Tom has been a lightning rod for a lot of that criticism against me," Pezze said.
Local lawyers have endorsed both judges for new terms.
In a survey that drew responses from 251 members of the Westmoreland County Bar Association, 96 percent supported retention for Pezze and 93 percent supported another term for McCormick.Additional Information:
Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas
Term: 10 years
Richard E. McCormick Jr.
First elected: 1991
First elected: 1991
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.
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Committee says Senate should consider removing Attorney General Kane
- Buffalo man killed by truck in the West End Circle wanted ‘a fresh start’
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Derailment impacting Amtrak service eastbound from Pittsburgh
- Maryland man found with missing Ohio girl in Pittsburgh motel
- Penguins’ Perron returning to form
- Pittsburgh police chief reviewing use of force policies: Most ‘quite satisfactory’
- Trib readers help families with Operation Santa Claus
- Police find marijuana grow rooms in Castle Shannon