Candidates for the 2015 judicial race

York County voters will elect two new judges to the York County Court of Common Pleas in 2015.
The elections will fill vacancies on the bench left by retirements.

Candidates who have announced so far are:

Neil Slenker

York area attorney Neil Slenker announced his candidacy for judge of the York County Court of Common Pleas on Dec. 3.

From the steps of the old county courthouse, Slenker said, “I want to make a real difference in people’s lives by using the legal knowledge and experience I have garnered in nearly 20 years of practice to serve the people of this county as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Slenker

Slenker

“As a judge, I will strive to be fundamentally fair, knowledgeable, firm, thoughtful, and compassionate – all grounded on the foundational concept of individual accountability,” he said.

Slenker, 44, is a partner in the law firm of Stock and Leader and currently serves as the firm’s vice-chair of the Business/Employment Department and as the firm’s ethics counsel.

He earned his law degree at the Dickinson School of Law and has a degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University.

Chris Menges

Having missed a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2011 judicial primary by 457 votes, local attorney Chris Menges announced he will make another run at the York County bench.

“Over my 38 year career in law I have worked tirelessly on behalf of my clients within a system that many times ignores the Judeo-Christian morals and ethics our country was founded upon,” Menges said. “I have sat with the wife whose husband just left her, represented the husband who can’t see his children, and been with the couple who have just had their children taken and placed into foster care.”

“Because of these experiences and many more, I plan on being a voice of reason on the bench. If elected, I will ask to be assigned to family law for my entire term. I will treat everybody who comes before me justly and fairly without even a hint of discrimination and in the same way I would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.”

Menges, of Dillsburg, is a senior partner at Trinity Law, A Menges & McLaughlin Firm, York and Lancaster where he concentrates on family law.

Karen Comery

York County attorney Karen Comery announced her bid for one of the two open seats on the Court of Common Pleas on Monday from the steps of the old county courthouse.

Comery, 43, is a former prosecutor who spent 11 years in the district attorney’s office.

Comery

Comery

Since leaving the that office almost three years ago, Comery has opened her own law firm in Spring Garden Township. She handles civil matters such as family law, dependency and Orphan’s Court, but specializes in criminal defense.

Comery got a dismissal of her first murder case as a defense attorney after new evidence was found that exonerated her client.

“We need judges with courtroom experience,” said Comery, who began her career in public service in 1996 as a case manager in early intervention for the York/Adams MH-IDD program. “We especially need qualified women on the bench.”

Comery pointed out that the retirements of Judge Sheryl Dorney and Judge Penny Blackwell leave only two female judges on the panel of 13.

Michael Flannelly

A judicial candidate with actual judicial experience, Michael W. Flannelly has announced he again will campaign for a seat on the York County Common Pleas Court bench.

Flannelly, who has lost three judicial bids while being highly regarded by the local bar association, was appointed to the bench bench in July of 2012 after the death of Judge Chuck Patterson.

Flannelly

Flannelly

Flannelly served as judge until December 31, 2013, hearing cases involving custody, juvenile delinquency, dependency, child support contempt, protection from abuse, indirect criminal contempt, civil motions and other matters.

Flannelly was appointed York County Solicitor in July of 2004 and has been the county solicitor continuously since then with the exception of his time on the bench.

Prior to that appointment, Flannelly was in private practice for 20 years, with a focus on civil litigation.

Flannelly, of Spring Garden Township, also volunteers for a faith-based organization that provides job-seeking skills for individuals recently released from prison.

Kathleen Prendergast

Attorney Kathleen Prendergast has announced her candidacy for judge of the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Prendergast, 52, has been practicing law in York County for 21 years. She said she would like to expand the existing drug, mental health and veterans’ courts.

Prendergast

Prendergast

“These courts save taxpayers’ money and reduce crime by addressing the root causes of crime,” she said. “They hold people accountable for both their crimes and their recovery.”

Along with a law degree from George Mason University School of Law, Prendergast has bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in English education.

Prendergast taught at Dallastown Area High School from 1985 to 1990, received a fellowship from Congressman William Goodling in 1992 and worked with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor. She then worked as a Congressional legislative assistant before returning to York to practice law in 1994.

Prendergast is a past chair of the Family Law Section and the Woman and Law Section of the York County Bar Association. She co-chaired the 2004 Transition Team for the York County Commissioners and she was a member of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of York.

In her announcement, Prendergast noted that almost all new judges are assigned to the family court division, but not all candidates have experience in that area of the law.

“Because I have been representing parents and children in family court for the past 21 years, I would be able to hit the ground running in that job,” she said.

Carl Anderson
A York native with high-level legal experience in Ohio has announced his candidacy for the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Carl E. Anderson has 30 years of experience representing small to medium sized companies and non-profit organizations, according to a news release by the Democratic Party of York County.

Anderson

Anderson

A 1971 graduate of WIlliam Penn High School, Anderson earned his bachelor of arts degree from Central State University in Ohio in 1976, a masters degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and his juris doctorate from Boston College Law School in 1981.

His experience includes being a partner at Arter & Hadden LLP in Cleveland, Ohio, before serving as chief legal counsel to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste at the age of 34 in 1989.

He returned to Pennsylvania to serve as the Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking in 2003 and subsequently worked in the York-based offices for CGA Law Firm and Barley Snyder. He established his own York-based practice in 2011.

Tom Reilly

Spring Grove area District Justice Tom Reilly announced his candidacy on Friday for one of the two open spots in the York County County Court of Common Pleas.

Reilly made his announcement on the steps of the York County Judicial Center where he previously worked in the district attorney’s office as a prosecutor.

Reilly

Reilly

Reilly was elected to district court in 2011. Prior to his position as a senior prosecutor, Reilly worked as a corrections officer, a deputy warden, law clerk, and defense attorney.

Reilly also serves on York County’s Children’s Roundtable as the District Court representative – a collaborative initiative between the courts, county agencies and service providers promoting permanency, safety, and well-being for children.

Reilly said Friday, if elected, he would work to expand the county’s drug treatment court to the district court level “so that these people can get the help they need.”

On the flipside, Reilly said people “dealing this garbage to our children … will suffer the consequences of their actions” in his court room.

Reilly noted that heroin overdose deaths in York County in 2014 reached 100, triple of those in 2013. He said the county’s treatment courts are part of the solution to the drug crisis.

Along with District Justice Jeff Joy and Judge Craig T. Trebilcock, Reilly already has expanded the county’s veterans court to the District Justice level for veterans who commit summary offenses.

About Rick Lee

Rick Lee is a veteran courthouse reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Contact him at rlee@ydr.com or call 495-1782.
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