ShareThis Page
News

Philadelphia's Dougherty brothers spotlight differences as one vies for Supreme Court

| Friday, May 1, 2015, 11:24 p.m.

Pittsburghers may not know Philadelphia's “Johnny Doc,” but his brother, state Supreme Court candidate Kevin Dougherty, wants voters to know they are very different people.

John J. Dougherty Jr., business manager of Philadelphia's powerful electricians union — Local 98 — is a charismatic yet tough, and even feared, power broker.

Kevin Dougherty, on the other hand, has built a reputation of trying to help juveniles and families as a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge in the court's family division.

“What separates me is that I come from a completely different world than he,” Dougherty told the Tribune-Review on Friday. “He's in the world of labor. I'm in the world of law.”

Dougherty said he would recuse himself if their worlds ever collide in the courtroom.

A South Philadelphia native, Dougherty is one of six Democrats seeking the nomination in the May primary. He raised $708,000 through March, the most of any candidate in the contest for three seats on the state's highest court. His largest single contributor — giving at least $302,000 — is his brother's union.

He is “recommended” by the state and Philadelphia bar associations.

Since Gov. Tom Ridge appointed Dougherty to the bench in 2001, he has prided himself on helping children and families, requesting to serve in the family division, working his way up to supervising judge then being appointed administrative judge of the juvenile branch.

Dougherty received 78 percent of the votes when he ran for retention in 2011, receiving support from Republicans and Democrats. The state Supreme Court tapped him to be the administrative judge of the trial division in October.

He said he helped reform the family division by addressing such issues as access to the court, fair representation and “changing of the culture” that had consisted of older judges on their way out.

“I have taken a dysfunctional system and had a track record of accomplishment,” he said.

Transparency and the election of three new justices would bolster the integrity of the Supreme Court, he said.

Last year's pornographic email scandal that sent Justice Seamus McCaffery into retirement and the 2013 conviction of Justice Joan Orie Melvin on charges of using her office for political gain have tarnished its image.

The new blood, Dougherty said, would “bring closure to the wounds of (the court's) reputation.”

As a justice, he said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Max Baer, a former Allegheny County family division judge who has held a seat on the state Supreme Court since 2003.

“I want to make sure there's someone there upon his retirement that can succeed him and maintain the goal of continuing good things for good families,” Dougherty said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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.

click me