Challenge to Washington Co. judicial candidate withdrawn

  • By Scott Beveridge April 3, 2013

Challenges to a Peters Township attorney’s nominating petitions to appear on the ballot in the May primary as a candidate for Washington County judge have been withdrawn.

Democrat Robert K. McGrady and Washington County Republican Party Chairman William Merrell notified Commonwealth Court in Pittsburgh Tuesday they decided to discontinue the cases brought against Thomas Fallert of Venetia, challenging the legitimacy of some of the signatures on the candidate’s petitions. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh was canceled.

Fallert cross-filed to appear on the Democratic and Republican ballots in the primary. McGrady challenged Fallert’s Democratic petitions while Merrell challenged the Republican ones. Fallert is among eight candidates seeking two seats on the bench.

McGrady and Merrell could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Their attorney listed on the appeal, James R. Jeffries Jr. of Washington, said he withdrew as counsel in the case last week and had no comment on its outcome.

A registered Democrat, Fallert said the objections to his petition were withdrawn at the “eleventh hour” and he was not provided any notice of the decision from McGrady or Merrell.

“These objections were an abuse of the judicial process, a waste of the court’s, and my, time and resources,” he said in an emailed statement. From a legal perspective, the facts and conduct of the objectors and their counsel on the record crossed the line on multiple levels. This was a vicious political move in an attempt to discourage me in this campaign. It had no merit whatsoever.”

He said the challenge was baseless and that politics should have no place in evaluating judicial candidates.

Scott Beveridge has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986 after previously working at the Daily Herald in Monongahela. He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts and art education programs and Duquesne University’s master of liberal arts program. He is a 2004 World Affairs journalism fellow.


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