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Four For Two: The PA Superior Court Race

Superior Court candidates

Four for two.

While the national spotlight has been shone on the Keystone State for its Supreme Court race, there are two other statewide judicial races on the November 7 ballot – Superior Court and Commonwealth Court.

Today, we take a look at the four candidates for the two open seats on the Superior Court.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court plays a crucial role in the judicial system, serving as an intermediate appellate court that handles criminal and civil appeals in County Courts of Common Pleas. It’s the pivotal juncture in the legal journey before a case can move on to the PA Supreme Court. The Superior Court holds significant sway in the state’s legal landscape due to the constraints on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s capacity to hear all cases.

Panels of three judges typically review cases, and these judges often travel to various locations to hear cases, ensuring accessibility and thorough consideration of legal matters.

There are two open seats for 10-year terms and two retention votes.


Jill Beck (D) | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Age: 44 | Education: BA, George Washington ’02; JD, Duquesne ’06 | Resides: Squirrel Hill

Background | Personal Data Questionnaire

  • Litigation Attorney, Blank Rome LLP, 2019-20, 2021-22
  • Candidate, PA Superior Court, 2021
  • Judicial Law Clerk II, Supreme Court of PA, 2016-19
  • Deputy Judicial Law Clerk, PA Superior Court, 2010-15
  • Attorney, KidsVoice, 2006-10


Recommendation. The PBA rated her “Highly Recommended,” writing that Beck possesses “the highest combination of legal ability, experience and integrity.”

Statement. “Justice is served only when every person – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or income – has fair and equal access to the courts.”


Timika Lane (D) | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Age: 51 | Education: BA, Howard ’94; JD, Rutgers-Camden ’02 | Resides: Philadelphia

Background | Personal Data Questionnaire

  • Judge, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, 2014-present
  • Chief Counsel, Sen. Anthony H. Williams, 2009-13
  • Trial Attorney, Defender Association of Philadelphia, 2004-09
  • Teacher, Robert Goddard Middle School (Md.), 1995-99


Recommendation. The PBA rated Lane as “Highly Recommended,” saying that it is “confident the candidate is capable of outstanding performance as a Superior Court of Pennsylvania judge.”

Statement. “It is essential to create a court environment in which “every person that appears before the court” is treated with respect.”


Maria Battista (R) | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Age: 51 | Education: BS, Clarion; MEd, Westminster; EdD, Pittsburgh; JD, Ohio Northern | Resides: Lamartine

Background | Personal Data Questionnaire (did not complete)

  • Vice President, Federal and State Contracts, The Judge Group, 2023-present
  • Contract Specialist, U.S. Department of Defense, 2020-23
  • Director of Policy and Government Affairs, PA Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, 2018-21
  • Association Director, National School Transportation Association
  • Board Counsel, PA Department of State, 2017
  • Hearing Examiner, PA Department of State, 2014-17
  • Assistant Counsel, PA Department of Health, 2011-14


Recommendation. The PBA did not recommend Battista after she failed to participate in their judicial evaluation process.

Statement. “It is not the role of a judge to legislate from the bench, and this is even more important when dealing with constitutional matters.”


Harry Smail (R) | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Age: 57 | Education: BA, Grove City ’88; JD, Duquesne ’97 | Resides: Hempfield Township

Background | Personal Data Questionnaire

  • Judge, 10th District Court of Common Pleas, Westmoreland County, 2014-present
  • Solicitor, Westmoreland County Clerk of Court, 2010-13
  • Attorney, Harry F. Smail Jr., P.C., 1998-2014


Recommendation. The PBA rated Smail “Recommended” “based on his extensive background, legal ability and temperament.”

Statement. “I firmly believe that appellate judges are at their best when they have bench experience alongside
litigation experience.”

5 Responses

  1. I have no time for egotistical candidates who won’t answer bar association questionnaires.

    1. Not really. If you have not noticed the party of the twice impeached, indicted how many times ex president is having a race to the bottom for candidates.


  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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