Applicants for judge position kept secret

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office, tasked with filling a vacancy opened by Judge Richard A. Gray in Lycoming County Court until a new judge is elected, has not yet released the names of applicants it received for the position.

Retiring at the end of June, Gray spent 15 years on the bench and was up for re-election next year. Wolf’s office will fill the interim appointment. It finished accepting applications last month. Applicants interested in the position had to complete and submit a questionnaire by May 30. Candidates were chosen based on experience, temperament and legal judgment, according to J.J. Abbot, deputy press secretary for Wolf’s office.

“Gov. Wolf particularly values diversity, integrity and high ethical standards,” Abbot said. “Gov. Wolf and the Office of General Counsel will evaluate candidates and make decisions as expeditiously as they can.”

The interim judge will have the same salary as a full-time judge and will be paid by the state.

The governor’s office told the Sun-Gazette it is processing the names and applications.

It is now the second week since the office closed applications and it has yet to make public who is being considered for the new position. The Williamsport Sun-Gazette has filed a Right-to-Know request to see both the names and applications, which are public information, according to Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel with the state news media association.

“The candidates are seeking an elected office and the usual process to fill an elected office is completely public,” she said. “The process of filling a vacancy should be as public as the normal election process.”