Senate confirms 2 new judges for York County

Staff report

The Pennsylvania Senate this week unanimously approved a slate of candidates to fill vacant judge positions – including two seats in York County Common Pleas Court.

Kathleen Prendergast

York City attorney Kathleen Prendergast, 53, and federal prosecutor Christy Fawcett, 63, were nominated to fill the vacancies on the 15-seat county bench.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden, said in a news release that he had recommended Prendergast to Gov. Tom Wolf for one of the vacancies in November.

“I am pleased with the prompt action taken by Senate leadership to advance these nominees through the confirmation process,” Wagner said.

With Wednesday’s confirmation by the Senate, the pair will serve through the end of 2017, the remainder of the unfilled terms. The posts will appear on the 2017 ballot.

Prendergast and Fawcett will be sworn in during a private ceremony Tuesday morning at the county Judicial Center and Prendergast said she expects to be on the bench and hearing cases that afternoon.

Christy Fawcett

"This has been my dream," Prendergast said.

A public swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for July 18, she said.

Terms: Prendergast has said she intends to run for a full 10-year term, but Fawcett has said she hasn't decided if she’ll run.

Prendergast has stood for election to the bench three times; the most recent was last year, when she lost to former county solicitor Michael W. Flannelly and Warrington Township attorney N. Christopher Menges.

Fawcett was an assistant district attorney, serving in the office from 1982 to 1997, when she took a job in the state Attorney General's Office. In 2000, she joined the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"I was delighted," Fawcett said of the confirmation vote. "I think I've said this before, but being back in York County (courts), my old stomping grounds, is wonderful. I'm anxious to serve the community I live in."

Wolf nominates two York women for county judge posts

Vacancies:York County's vacancies occurred when former judges Thomas H. Kelley VI and John W. Thompson Jr. retired from the bench. Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh also intends to retire in the near future.

Another temporary vacancy exists because Judge Craig T. Trebilcock is on active duty with the U.S. Army this year.

In March, Wolf put out an open call for applicants to come forward to fill the state's 30 open seats on counties’ Court of Common Pleas, magisterial district courts, state Supreme Court, state Superior Court and state Commonwealth Court.

Prendergast and Fawcett were selected after a regional advisory commission reviewed qualifications of all the candidates and presented their findings to Wolf, a Democrat from York County.

“York County has been without a full complement of judges on the Court of Common Pleas for far too long,” Wagner said.  “I am very confident that both of these women have the experience needed to step in and fill that void quickly.”