Saturday, August 18, 2007

Indicted judge has more time to campaign

Good news and bad news for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce, indicted earlier this week on federal charges of bilking insurance companies out of $440,000.

The state Supreme Court announced Friday it was suspending Joyce with pay "to protect and preserve the integrity of the Unified Judicial System and the administration of justice for the citizens of this Commonwealth."

That's the good news. With his case load cleared and a steady paycheck coming in, Joyce can now concentrate full time on his re-election campaign.

Joyce may continue this campaign because his suspension is an administrative action that does not affect his employment as a judge, Pennsylvania State Department Spokeswoman Catherine Ennis told The Associated Press Friday. "He's not technically out of office," Ennis said.

Joyce, a Republican from Erie who was elected to the state Superior Court in 1997, is seeking retention to another 10-year term on the court.

While an indictment is not proof of guilt, the feds don't usually indict people on a whim (not counting Scooter Libby, of course).

The bad news, of course, is that people now know who Joyce is. Retention elections are automatic unless somebody knows your name and they have a reason to vote against you. See Russell Nigro, who lost his retention bid to the state Supreme Court in 2005 because voters wanted to punish somebody for the legislative pay grab.

Voters will remember Joyce as the indicted judge and will vote "No" on his retention in November. That is unless Joyce wises up and quits the race before we get to November. That would be decent thing to do. He should be more concerned with clearing his name than winning an election.

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