Democrat Women of Mercer County

The Democrat Women of Mercer County gathered for its May meeting with President Judy Hines presiding. She lauded members who walked and knocked, placed yard signs and made over 14,000 phone calls on behalf of local candidates and statewide judges leading up to the primary election.

The DWMC was honored to have retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin as guest speaker. She discussed the importance of off-year elections, especially electing judicial candidates.

She said, “People pay little or no attention to judicial races and they should because they affect everyone more than general elections.” To emphasize her point, she said, “Judges can take your property, your children, dissolve your marriage, take your money, your freedom and take your life.”

Baldwin said we should all be informed voters, making sure we know the qualifications of those seeking judgeships. Baldwin also gave a brief history of the state judicial system, noting Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, established in 1722, is the oldest in the nation. Justice Baldwin concluded her presentation with a pop quiz on the constitution.

Contrary to popular belief, nowhere in the Constitution does it say we have a right to a jury of our peers. Baldwin explained this is not a democratic principle, but comes from English law when nobles didn’t want to be tried by commoners, but by their peers. Our Constitution entitles us to an impartial jury. Baldwin noted, citizens are constitutional supporters, as well as judges. You have to be knowledgeable about the Constitution. Justice Baldwin stated, “The strength of this country is we’ve had an informed citizenry.”

Judges Dwayne Woodruff, vying for a seat on the Supreme Court, and Carolyn Nichols running for Superior Court, also addressed the assemblage. Woodruff was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers while attending Duquesne Law School at night. After graduating, Woodruff continued his football career, was team captain and also a practicing attorney.

He was elected to the bench in 2005 with the support of both parties and chose to preside in family court. “I treat every kid that comes into my court room as if he were my own. It is important we support and encourage our kids,” he said. Judge Woodruff is active in many community organizations, believing it’s important judges know their constituents.

 

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