Voters challenge nominating petitions of two county judicial candidates

March 25, 2013
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From left, Thomas Fallert and Peter V. Marcoline III

Commonwealth Court has scheduled a hearing on requests to set aside the nominating petitions of Thomas Fallert and Peter V. Marcoline III, both of whom have cross-filed as Washington County judicial candidates.

The challenges, filed by Robert K. McGrady against petitions circulated among Democrats and by Washington County GOP Chairman William Merrell against petitions circulated among Republicans, are to be heard April 3 in Pittsburgh.

Representing McGrady and Merrell is attorney James Jeffries Jr.

Merrell said he examined the nominating petitions of all Washington County judicial candidates online and filed the court challenge against the two because of what he called “glaring problems.”

Marcoline, he alleged, wrote his mailing address as Washington when the document called for the candidate’s municipality, South Strabane Township.

On Fallert’s petitions, he claimed some who signed included mailing addresses of McMurray or Venetia, rather than the municipality in which they lived. Someone crossed out the addresses and corrected them to Peters Township.

Only the petition signer can correct misinformation, and that person must initial it, Merrell said.

Merrell also questioned Fallert circulating petitions in multiple locations around the county on the same day, which he called a Herculean task.

“Judges should be held to the highest possible standard and follow the letter of the law,” Merrell said. “The voters should expect nothing less than that.”

Merrell said he once spoke with Fallert on the phone but had not met either him or Marcoline.

He also said he was not aware McGrady had challenged the same candidates’ Democratic petitions. McGrady could not immediately be located for comment.

Fallert said Monday he had not seen a copy of the Commonwealth Court documents, Marcoline said he reviewed recent case law with members of his campaign committee and cited law that requires him to use his address as it appears on his voter’s registration card. His campaign chairman, Christopher Blackwell, made a formal demand that Jeffries withdraw the petitions “or we will be seeking sanctions,” Marcoline said.

Marcoline and Fallert, first-time candidates for Washington County Court, are among eight candidates who have cross-filed for the May 21 primary.

There are two vacancies on the Washington County bench because of the retirements last year of Judges Paul Pozonsky and Janet Moschetta Bell.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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