Superior picks: Two east and two west for a hard-working court Monday, October 26, 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Superior is a word that can be applied to the candidates seeking seats on the Pennsylvania Superior Court with only one exception.
Eight individuals from the major parties are running for this prolific panel that hears appeals from family, orphans, civil and criminal courts. All of them are well-regarded by their peers, knowledgeable and skilled. The only exception, Libertarian Marakay Rogers, did not take part in the rating process of the state bar association.
In an exceptional bunch, four stand out as worthy of our endorsement and your votes -- two from Allegheny County and two from Philadelphia.
* Robert J. Colville, 44, of Ross followed in the footsteps of his father, former District Attorney Robert E. Colville, who is a senior judge. A Democrat, the younger Judge Colville was elected to Common Pleas Court in 1999, and he served in the juvenile and adult sections of the family division and now sits in the civil division. He was instrumental in cleaning up a backlog of asbestos claims. He has the respect of his peers as president of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and a rating of "recommended" by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
* Temp Smith, 57, of Mt. Lebanon, a Republican, is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and the University of Pittsburgh Law School, a partner at the Pittsburgh firm of Thomson Rhodes & Cowie, where he concentrates on medical malpractice defense and corporate representation. He has handled 90 appellate civil cases, so he is no stranger to Superior Court. His enthusiasm for writing opinions will serve him well, as this is a key function of any appellate court. The state bar said he is recommended.
* Anne E. Lazarus, 56, of Philadelphia has served on its Common Pleas bench for 18 years and comes highly recommended by the state bar. After working in both the criminal and civil divisions, she now is in Orphans Court, as well as handling the court's "rocket docket," intended to cut its backlog. The bar association accurately described her as candid and scholarly with superior writing ability, and her peers honored her for her work encouraging pro bono work by attorneys for individuals who cannot afford it.
* Teresa Sarmina, 57, of Philadelphia is a former prosecutor with the Philadelphia district attorney's and state attorney general's offices. She was elected to Common Pleas Court in 1997, and she has been in its homicide division for the past six years. She had contemplated a run for state Supreme Court this spring and was rated highly recommended by the state bar, but she withdrew from that campaign in favor of Judge Jack Panella. Her easy and forthright manner, and a record of rarely being overturned on appeal, make her ideal for this collaborative, hard-working court.