Allegheny County Common Pleas Judicial Elections | Election Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judicial Elections

click to enlarge Allegheny County Courthouse
Allegheny County Courthouse
With nearly 40 candidates running for nine open seats on the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, this election cycle offers a paramount opportunity to remake the county’s criminal justice system. Common Pleas Judges are responsible for overseeing trials for criminal, civil, and family cases and delivering sentencing. They can also be a part of doling out, or withholding, cash bail. Their discretion can reform the court. Pittsburgh City Paper has chosen to highlight four different categories of endorsements and/or rankings for this year’s judicial candidates: legal, political, reform, and LGBTQ.

The legal rankings come from the Allegheny County Bar Association and have four different results: highly recommended, recommended, not recommended at this time (which means candidates could be recommended later, but aren’t currently), and unqualified.

Political endorsements are from two large Democratic Party groups, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and the Young Democrats of Allegheny County, since many more candidates are filing as Democrats than as Republicans.


A new criminal justice reform coalition, formed earlier this year, is providing endorsements for reform-minded candidates. Members include police-reform group Alliance for Police Accountability, Black-led political group 1Hood Power, statewide prison abolition group Straight Ahead, and UNITE PAC, a political action committee working to get elected progressive candidates. According to the coalition, these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to equitable justice.

Lastly, two of the largest LGBTQ political organizations handed out endorsements for several candidates this cycle. The groups are the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh.

Voters will be able to select up to nine of the following candidates on the ballot.

Bruce Beemer - Incumbent Common Pleas Judge, Bradford Woods

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Dean A. Birdy - Attorney, North Side

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed


Pauline Calabrese - Mayor of Penn Hills, Attorney, Penn Hills

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Tom Caulfield - Magisterial District Judge, Forest Hills

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

William Bill Caye - Attorney, South Fayette

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Jason J. Cervone - Attorney, North Side

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Jessel Costa - Attorney, South Side

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Unqualified
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed


Alyssa Cowan - Attorney, Hampton

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Rosemary Crawford - Attorney, Hampton

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Marc Daffner - Attorney, Greentree

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Anthony DeLuca - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Richard Thomas Ernsberger - Attorney, Oakland

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Brian D. Flaherty - Attorney, Forest Hills

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Unqualified
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Mark Patrick Flaherty - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Ryan O. Hemminger - Attorney, Elizabeth Township

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Nicola Henry-Taylor - Attorney, Ross

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

George Heym - Attorney, Squirrel Hill

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Rick Hosking - Attorney, Upper St. Clair

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Elliot Howsie - Incumbent Common Pleas Judge, Churchill

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - HIghly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/ Recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Clint Kelley - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended • Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed • Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Daniel J. Konieczka, Jr. - Magisterial District Judge, Shaler

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended • Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Sabrina Korbel - Attorney, Ross

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/ Recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Brian Samuel Malkin - Attorney, Franklin Park

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Lisa Middleman - Attorney, Franklin Park

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Joseph Patrick Murphy - Attorney, Pine

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Mik Pappas - Magisterial District Judge, Highland Park

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/ Recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/ Endorsed

Chuck Porter - Attorney, Shaler

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Zeke Rediker - Attorney, Squirrel Hill

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/ Recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Matt Rogers - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Giuseppe Rosselli - Attorney, Bell Acres

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Endorsed

Jimmy Sheets - Attorney, Bethel Park

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Beth Tarasi Sinatra - Attorney, Bell Acres

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time • Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended • Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed • Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Tiffany Sizemore - Attorney, Churchill

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Patrick A. Sweeney - Attorney, North Side

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Endorsed

Andy Szefi - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Albert Veverka - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Chelsa Wagner - Allegheny County Controller, Point Breeze

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/ Endorsed

Wrenna Watson - Attorney, Hill District

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Ilan Zur - Prosecutor, Squirrel Hill

Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended
Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition - Not endorsed
Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed
* This story has been updated on Wed., May 5 at 1:30 p.m. with a correction to reflect that Tom Caufield and and Patrick A. Sweeney have both been endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, and at 8:30 p.m. to correct that Patrick A. Sweeney currently lives in the North Side, not South Side. Pittsburgh City Paper apologizes for the errors.

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