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Parties select judicial nominees in Pa.

September 08, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Republican Committees for Franklin and Fulton counties Wednesday night selected Chambersburg attorney Carol Van Horn to appear on the ballot Nov. 2 for judge in the 39th District of the Court of Common Pleas.

In a secret ballot the members of the committees chose Van Horn, 41, over District Justice Larry K. Meminger. She will run to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge William H. Kaye.

Franklin County Democratic Committee Chairman William Butts said his committee and Fulton County Democrats have endorsed Chambersburg attorney Tyrone Johnson as their nominee. Johnson had been a registered Republican, but switched his party affiliation Wednesday, according to the Franklin County Voter Registration Office.

"I am very humbled by the support of the party. This is my first foray into this arena," Van Horn said after the vote. A member of the Walker, Van Horn & MacBride law firm, the Chambersburg-area resident is president of the Franklin County Bar Association and has been a practicing attorney since 1984.

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"I have a zest for hard work and fairness ... and the courage to make the unpopular choice in upholding the law," Van Horn said in a brief address before the vote.

Meminger, 41, of Fayetteville, Pa., stressed his 15 years as a district justice, handling more than 50,000 cases. "During my tenure as a district justice, I've had the opportunity to hear just about every type of case," he told the committees.

Before the vote, committee members were given 10 minutes to speak with the candidates. Party Chairman Allen V. Twigg advised committee members they could not ask questions about the death penalty, abortion or juveniles being tried as adults, since a judge may have to rule on those issues.

In Pennsylvania candidates for judge are prohibited from discussing how they would rule on specific issues. Twigg said there was no "litmus test" for nominees.

"I think the Republican Committee assumed its responsibility and did an admirable job," Meminger, 41, said after the vote. His district covers Greene and Guilford townships.

Johnson, who lives in Mercersburg, Pa., could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. Butts said Johnson had been endorsed by the Franklin County committee last week and the Fulton County committee on Wednesday.

The deadline for the parties to submit their choices to the Pennsylvania Department of State is Monday, Sept. 13.

Butts said some members of his committee expressed support for Van Horn, but he said endorsing a Republican is against party bylaws. Because the district covers two counties, state bylaws for both parties were followed in the selection process.

In the case of the Republicans, Twigg said Franklin County had 25 votes, one for every 1,000 people who voted in the last presidential election. Fulton County was given two votes under that formula.

Kaye was to have appeared on the ballot for retention for another 10-years, but announced recently he is resigning Sept. 30 for health reasons. Because the issue of electing a new judge was not on the May primary ballot, the selection process was left up to the party committees for the two counties.

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