York County attorneys gave Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner a higher score than fellow Judge Thomas H. Kelley VI in a poll conducted by the York County Bar Association.
The association on Monday released the results of its Judicial Retention Survey and Polls, a longstanding tradition to show voters the opinions of those who work with the judges, said Charlie Rausch, the association's Judicial Liaison Committee Chair.
Both judges, serving 10-year terms, are up for retention in the Nov. 5 election. Voters cast yes or no votes in the uncontested elections, with a majority of affirmatives needed to retain the seat.
The poll asked members to rate the men from 1 to 5 (with 1 being very poor, 2 being poor, 3 being acceptable, 4 being good, and 5 being excellent) in four categories: impartiality, legal ability, diligence, and judicial temperament.
Diligence means the judge's ability to process paperwork and "get it out in a timely fashion," Rausch said, while judicial temperament shows how the judge conducts himself and relates to the parties in the courtroom.
The 283 attorneys who completed the Bortner poll scored that judge higher than the 315 members who completed the Kelley poll.
Of the attorneys who rated Bortner, 73 said they have extensive interaction with the judge. Overall, attorneys rated him 4.38 for impartiality, 4.17 for legal ability, 4.13 for diligence, and 4.43 for his judicial temperament.
Kelley was scored a 3.4 for impartiality, a 3.80 for legal ability, 3.53 for diligence, and 3.11 for his judicial temperament.
Rausch declined to interpret the rating, saying the association doesn't endorse judges for retention.
"People can look at the numbers and determine how they interpret it, if at all," he said.
In May, the association released a poll measuring former U.S. Rep. Todd Platts and Common Pleas Judge Michael Flannelly. Both men are competing for the seat Flannelly was appointed to after the sudden death of Judge Chuck Patterson.
Of those who responded, 82 percent, or 261 members, said current Flannelly is "highly qualified," and an additional 13 percent, or 40 members, said he is "qualified" for the position. Less than 1 percent, or three members, said he is "not presently qualified."
Seventy-seven percent, or 247 of the respondents, said Platts is "not presently qualified," but 4 percent, or 13 members, said he is "highly qualified," and 8 percent, or 27 members, said he is "qualified."
The two will face off in the November election, with Platts having won the Republican slot on the ballot and Flannelly taking the Democratic place on the ballot.
Rausch said the association isn't planning another Platts and Flannelly poll before the election.
But he said it's possible both men will end up as judges; two judges are retiring, and either man, if unsuccessful in November, could be tapped by the governor to serve as an appointee, he said.
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