Judicial candidates speak at forum

March 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- A Monday night forum with the four announced candidates for two judgeships in Franklin and Fulton counties drew about 70 people, many of whom wore pins to show support for candidates they already backed.

Sheri Morgan arrived without a chosen candidate, but she did have a question.

"What makes you worth this ($160,000) salary?" she asked.

Angela Krom, Shawn Meyers, Eric Weisbrod and Tim Wilmot all responded that they aren't seeking the position for its paycheck.

Krom, a Franklin County assistant district attorney, said she could make more money if she took her trial skills into a private practice.

"I want this job because I want to do the work," she said.

Morgan is a member of the Greencastle-Antrim Democratic Club, which co-sponsored the forum with Waynesboro, Pa., area Democrats. She questioned why Pennsylvania ranks as having the fourth-highest-paid judges in the nation after cost-of-living adjustments.


Meyers, who serves as solicitor for the Franklin County Commissioners, said he's sure any of the four candidates would be worth the money. Difficult choices need to be made, he said.

"That takes an awful amount of work, awful amount of thought and awful amount of effort," Meyers said.

Another audience member questioned how the candidates would reconcile their current positions as defense attorneys and prosecutors with "the search for truth."

Wilmot, also a Franklin County assistant district attorney, said he disagrees with the notion that a prosecutor's role is to win cases. Instead, he said, the prosecutor "seeks justice" using ethics that carry over to being a judge.

"Our system is an adversarial system designed to have two opposing (sides) present their cases. ... Our system only works when everybody does their jobs," said Weisbrod, who has a private law practice in Waynesboro.

Waynesboro Democrat and attorney Clint Barkdoll served as moderator for the forum. This is believed to be the first time in Franklin and Fulton counties that two judge positions are on the ballot in an election cycle, he said.

The situation occurred due to the retirement of Judge John Walker and the state's decision to expand the 39th District from four to five judges. Also, Judge Carol Van Horn will be on ballots for her 10-year retention, in which voters select "yes" or "no" whether she can continue.

Krom, Meyers, Weisbrod and Wilmot are all registered Republicans, but judge candidates can cross-file for the primary election ballots. The primary is May 19.

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