Gov. Ed Rendell has begun discussions with his senior staff to consider filling several vacant judicial seats across the state, including the one formerly held by former Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella.
Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said the governor is working to fill the seats as quickly as possible. Ardo said no timeline has been established to fill the seats.
Mark Bufalino, chairman of the Luzerne County Democratic Party, said he is aware of several people interested in the position, but he would not reveal any names.
Judge Joseph Musto is currently filling the unexpired term of Michael Conahan, who retired in 2008. Conahan and Ciavarella have pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Musto said his term does not expire until January 2010, and said it would be inappropriate for him to submit his name for consideration for Ciavarella’s seat.
“I don’t have any plans to submit my name,” Musto said. “I’m a sitting judge and it wouldn’t be appropriate at this time to submit my name for consideration.”
Musto said prior to his appointment he sent a letter to the governor’s office expressing his interest in Conahan’s former seat. He said he is not aware of any other process to receive consideration.
Musto ran for election to the court in the May primary, but did not receive a nomination. He finished third on the Democratic side and 10th on the Republican side.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “We came really close.”
Bufalino said the county Democratic Party will not endorse any candidate to fill Ciavarella’s seat. He said the decision is solely up to Rendell.
William Amesbury and Tina Polachek Gartley secured Democratic nominations. Amesbury and Richard Hughes secured Republican nominations
The other Democratic candidates in the primary and their order of finish were: Joseph Sklarosky Jr., Jennifer Rogers, Tom Marsilio, Thomas O’Connor, Gene Sperazza, C.J. Bufalino, Michael Blazick, Molly Hanlon Mirabito, Tony Lumbis, Joe Terrana and Stephen Menn. It could not be determined if any of them intend to submit their names for consideration to fill the seat.
Judge Hugh Mundy will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2010. His seat and Ciavarella’s will be on the ballot in the 2011 election for full 10-year terms.