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7 Candidates Seek 3 Nominations For Statewide Appellate Bench

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- Primary Election Day is less than two weeks away, and voters are choosing candidates for all three state appellate courts.

Most cases never get to the state Supreme Court. They are decided in the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court. While the Republican nominees are unchallenged in their primary, the Democrats have lots of choices.

Three Democrats are seeking one nomination to the state's Superior Court that hears appeals on most criminal, civil and juvenile cases in Pennsylvania.

"I am the only judge running. I am the only one with experience on both sides of the aisle," said Judge Timika Lane.

A former public defender, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Lane stresses her judicial experience.

"Eleven of the 14 judges on Superior Court, they were all judges first," she said.

Two Allegheny County attorneys, Jill Beck and Bryan Neft, who both clerked for Superior Court judges, say they are each the better choice.

"In addition to my 30 years of experience, which is a broader-based experience than the other two candidates that are running, I come with a lot of Democratic values," says Neft.

"I have represented some of the most vulnerable members of our population, largely dedicating my career to helping the underserved," said Beck.

For Commonwealth Court that hears appeals from government agencies, Democrats pick two nominees from four candidates. Two Philadelphia judges, Lori Dumas and Sierra Street, are running.

"The Bar Association also said that I was committed to the pursuit of justice, and I agree with that. And that is what you want in a judge in any court on any level from anywhere," said Street.

"I just believe that experience matters. I believe that passion matters, and I believe that perspective matters. I believe I bring all three and am ready to go from day one," said Dumas.

Also on the ballot for Commonwealth Court are Allegheny County Judge David Spurgeon and Pittsburgh union attorney Amanda Green Hawkins.

"The work that I do is steeped in administrative law and a strong and extensive background is going to be important for success on this Commonwealth Court," says Green Hawkins.

"I am the only candidate that received the top rating of highly recommended from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. That was important to me because I was a kid that went through the McKeesport Area School District, a public education, and managed to get the top rating in the state," said Spurgeon.

The primary is May 18.

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