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Law school dean, common pleas court judge nominated to Pa. SC

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Feb 6, 2015

Tomwolf 150x150

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf this week announced his picks for two vacancies on the seven-member state Supreme Court.

Wolf said Wednesday he will nominate Ken Gormley, dean and professor at Duquesne University law school, and Thomas Kistler, who serves as president judge on the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.


Gormley, who specializes in Constitutional subjects, joined Duquesne’s faculty in 1994 after teaching at University of Pittsburgh’s law school and working in private practice.

A lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Gormley earned his undergraduate degree from University of Pittsburgh, his law degree from Harvard University.


From 1998 to 2001, he served as mayor of Forest Hills. He also served as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association.


Kistler, who was elected in 1997 to the common pleas court, previously served as a common pleas judge for 14 years before becoming president judge.


As president judge, he has helped to create the Centre County Child Access Center, which opened in October 2008 to provide a location for the safe exchange of children in separated or divorced families where there is domestic violence.


Prior to his time on the common pleas court, he worked in private practice for 15 years.


Kistler, a lifelong resident of Centre County, received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Penn State University.


“I am pleased today to announce two extremely qualified and distinguished individuals as my nominees to serve on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the highest court in the Commonwealth,” Wolf said Wednesday. 


“A collaborative process involving leaders from the Senate led to the selection of two nominees who I believe will execute their duties with the highest standard of ethics and judicial temperament.”


The nominations must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote in the state Senate.


Both Gormley and Kistler, if approved, will serve out the terms for the rest of this year. They’ve agreed not to run for election.


They would fill vacancies left by Justice Seamus McCaffery, who retired in October amid an email scandal, and Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who retired in December after turning 70, which is the mandatory retirement age for judges in Pennsylvania.


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Superior Court of Pennsylvania