This year, six incumbent Allegheny County judges are serving the final year of their election terms and will face the electorate in the November General Election in a “YES – NO” retention election. The Allegheny County Bar Association conducted a poll during the spring, asking its members to indicate whether each Allegheny County judicial candidate running for retention should be “recommended” or “not recommended” for retention. All of the Allegheny County judges who were on the ballot received very strong support from bar association membership – each receiving a “recommended” rating – and as a result, the ACBA is recommending all six for retention.
Receiving a “Recommended” rating are:
Justice Debra Todd was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2007, following eight years on the Superior Court. Prior to serving on the bench, she was a trial attorney in Pittsburgh for 18 years, first as an in-house litigator for U.S. Steel and later in private practice with an emphasis in civil litigation. Justice Todd received her bachelor’s degree (with honors) from Chatham College; her law degree from The University of Pittsburgh (Law Review); and the LL.M. degree in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia.
She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County and a fellow of the Allegheny County and PA Bar Foundations. She is a frequent lecturer and panelist for CLE programs on appellate practice, ethics, elder justice, child abuse and veterans issues.
Her awards include an honorary doctorate in public service from Chatham University; the Philip Werner Amram Award; the Pitt Law Distinguished Alumni Award; and the Amen Corner’s Judge Robert E. Dauer Award for Judicial Leadership and Excellence. In 2016, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape awarded Justice Todd its first Visionary Award, recognizing her significant impact in the lives of survivors of sexual violence. Most recently, she received the Women’s Bar Association of Western PA’s Susan B. Anthony Award, for promoting equality in the legal profession.
Justice Todd chaired the Statewide Elder Law Task Force, and is the Supreme Court’s liaison to Pennsylvania’s Veterans Courts.
The Hon. Jacqueline O. Shogan was elected to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in November of 2007. A graduate of Gateway High School in Monroeville, Judge Shogan received a B.S. in nursing, summa cum laude, from Temple University in 1975. She subsequently obtained an M.S. in nursing from the University of Virginia. Judge Shogan practiced for over 10 years as a nurse and nursing instructor prior to returning to law school. She obtained her J.D., with high honors, from Duke University School of Law in 1990 and was elected to the Order of the Coif.
After graduation from law school, Judge Shogan practiced in the areas of civil litigation, health law and administrative law in Pittsburgh. She also served as a law clerk for Judge Maurice B. Cohill of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and as an arbitrator and mediator. In addition, Judge Shogan taught appellate practice at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She was honored as a “2007-2008 Woman of the Year” by the Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly. She is also a recipient of the Celebrate & Share “Woman of Achievement Award.”
Judge Shogan is a past member and officer of the boards of directors of Neighborhood Legal Services, Easter Seals Western Pennsylvania and St. Edmunds Academy in Pittsburgh. She is currently a member of the Allegheny County, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and American bar associations, as well as the National Association of Women Judges.
The Hon. Kelly E. Bigley was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in November of 2007 and has served in its Juvenile and Criminal Division since January of 2008. Initially assigned to the Juvenile Division, she was assigned to hear dependency and delinquency cases. Since 2012, Judge Bigley has been assigned to the Criminal Division and has been presiding over an expedited docket known as Phoenix Court. Cases are directed to Phoenix Court for expedited disposition if they are appropriate for quick resolution by trial or plea. In addition, she is assigned general trial cases from the homicide docket. From 2012 to 2016, Judge Bigley presided over all cases revoked from the ARD docket and implemented a program to dispose of those cases in a timely manner.
Judge Bigley received her undergraduate degree from Robert Morris University in 1990 and her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in 1994. She worked as a judicial law clerk for the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, as well as an attorney in private practice before being elected to the bench.
The Hon. Cathleen Bubash was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in November of 2007, after being appointed to the bench by Gov. Edward Rendell in July of that year. Judge Bubash has served in the Family Division since that time, presiding over adult cases, including custody disputes and equitable distribution, as well as protection from abuse petitions and support actions. Additionally, Judge Bubash sits on the bench in the Family Court’s Juvenile Division, overseeing dependency cases and adjudicating delinquency hearings. She is also a trained mediator.
Judge Bubash attended West Virginia University and received her undergraduate degree from Penn State University in 1981 and her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in 1985. After four years in private practice, she joined the Office of the Public Defender in Allegheny County, where she served until 1995, when she reentered private practice.
In 1999, Judge Bubash was elected as a magisterial district justice in the City of Pittsburgh’s North Side. Judge Bubash served as the North Side’s district judge until her appointment to the Common Pleas Court bench in 2007.
In addition to her public service, Judge Bubash has been an adjunct professor at CCAC and California University of Pennsylvania and has taught college courses online. She has served as a board member of the Northside Community Development Fund, CORO Pittsburgh and CISV, an organization promoting global understanding among youth through international travel camps.
The Hon. Michael E. McCarthy was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in 2007 and was assigned to the Civil Division. In January of 2017, he moved to the Orphans’ Court Division. Before being elected to the bench, Judge McCarthy served as the administrative chairman of the Court of Common Pleas Board of Viewers, where he conducted eminent domain and real estate tax appeal hearings. In addition, he had a general law practice.
Judge McCarthy earned both his undergraduate and Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University. In 2015, he was certified by the National Judicial College as a civil mediator. While in the Civil Division, he presided over 130 jury trials, conducted motions, heard summary judgments and developed a mortgage foreclosure program that offered homeowners in financial distress an opportunity to save their homes. He is a Vietnam Veteran who served with distinction in the U.S. Navy Seabees. As a judge he pioneered the development of Veterans Court, a specialty court that addresses the unique challenges of veterans.
In 2010, Judge McCarthy received the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Judges Award and Veteran of the Year Award from VFW Post 1810. He was awarded the National Irish Voice 100 Award for Judicial Leadership in 2011. Judge McCarthy received the Pennsylvania Action Housing Award of Excellence in 2012. The Pittsburgh Business Times named the judge one of 10 Veterans of Influence in 2014.
He’s married to Janice. They have two daughters, Maura and Caitlin.
The Hon. John “Jack” T. McVay Jr. was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in 2007 and had served in its Family Division until transitioning to the Civil Division in February 2017. Judge McVay adjudicated thousands of cases in Juvenile/Children’s Court and also presided over Adult Family Division cases involving custody, visitation, child support and protection from abuse petitions. Judge McVay chaired the Family Group Decision Making Task Force for Allegheny County and has lectured on juvenile delinquency and dependency law for continuing legal education.
Judge McVay is a licensed pharmacist and received his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Duquesne University in 1980. He went on to earn his law degree from the Duquesne University School of Law in 1984. Upon graduating law school, Judge McVay was an attorney for 23 years and served primarily as Allegheny County assistant solicitor for the Department of Children Youth and Families, where he represented public clients in neglect, family welfare and child abuse cases. Throughout the years, Judge McVay reunited families, successfully concluded adoptions and believed in the court’s mission that every child has the right to a permanent, loving home. Judge McVay was inducted into the Duquesne Sports Hall of Fame for football in 2014, enjoys coaching baseball with his wife, Janine, and is an avid Pirates, Steelers and Duquesne University sports fan.