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

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judicial Elections

click to enlarge The Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP Photo: Ryan Deto
The Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh
With 18 candidates running for 10 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. Pittsburgh City Paper has highlighted three categories for this year’s judicial candidates: legal, reform, and LGBTQ.

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.

A criminal justice reform coalition (formed from police-reform, progressive, and Black-led advocacy groups) provided endorsements for candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to equitable justice.


Lastly, two of the largest LGBTQ political organizations — Steel City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh — handed out endorsements for several judge candidates this year. The Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh's endorsements below were endorsed during the primary election season.

Voters will be able to select up to 10 of the following candidates on the ballot. They are placed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot.

Chelsa Wagner, Democratic (Point Breeze)

Served as Allegheny County Controller since 2012. Before that, served as a state representative.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Not recommended at this time
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Endorsed (primary election)

Sabrina Korbel, Democrat/Republican (Ross)

Legal Director of the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh since 2002.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Endorsed (primary election)


Wrenna Watson, Democratic (Hill District)

Serves as a Magistrate Judge in Pittsburgh Municipal Court and Chair of Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Lisa Middleman, Democratic/Republican (Franklin Park)

Public defender who previously ran as a progressive independent for Allegheny County District Attorney.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Endorsed (primary election)

Nicola Henry-Taylor, Democratic (Ross)

Private attorney working in family and criminal courts. Attended Duquesne University Law School.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Endorsed (primary election)

Elliot Howsie, Democratic (Churchill)

Incumbent Common Pleas Judge through appointment. Former director of Allegheny County’s public defender office.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Tiffany Sizemore, Democratic (Churchill)

Clinical law professor at Duquesne University. Experience working as a public defender.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)


Bruce Beemer, Democratic/Republican (Bradford Woods)

Incumbent Common Pleas Judge through appointment. Former Inspector General of Pa.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)


Jessel Costa, Democratic (South Side)

Worked as prosecuting attorney and public defender. Worked for former Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Unqualified
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh —- Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Tom Caulfield, Democratic (Forest Hills)

Served as a Magisterial District Judge since 2010. Before that, worked as a public defender.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Joseph Patrick Murphy, Republican (Pine)

Private practice lawyer for 20 years and has served as an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Arbitrator.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Not recommended at this time
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Anthony DeLuca, Republican (Mt. Lebanon)

Former law clerk and Assistant District Attorney. Experience working as criminal defense attorney.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Daniel J. Konieczka, Jr., Republican (Shaler)

Served as Magisterial District Judge since 2018, with experience as a prosecuting and defense attorney.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Highly Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

William Bill Caye, Republican (South Fayette)

Private attorney, has taught at Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Chuck Porter, Republican (Shaler)

Trial lawyer. Worked in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Mark Patrick Flaherty, Republican (Mt. Lebanon)

Former Allegheny County Controller. Practiced law for 20 years in the areas of tax, finance, corporations, government.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Not recommended at this time
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Rick Hosking, Republican (Upper St. Clair)

Trial lawyer and certified mediator with experience in class actions, business torts, insurance coverage, and more.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Recommended
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)

Richard L. Weiss, Green (Bethel Park)

Worked as attorney for the federal government and internationally for development projects.
• Allegheny County Bar Association rating — Not rated
• Criminal Justice Reform coalition — Not endorsed
• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh — Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed (primary election)
Correction: This story was updated on Mon., Oct. 25 to clarify that the Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh's endorsements were from the primary election season. The Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh did not endorse any candidate for the general election.

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