Judge indicted for insurance fraud seeks re-election
Good news and bad news for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce, indicted earlier this week on federal charges of bilking insurance companies out of $440,000.
The state Supreme Court announced Friday it was suspending Joyce with pay "to protect and preserve the integrity of the Unified Judicial System and the administration of justice for the citizens of this Commonwealth."
That's the good news. With his case load cleared and a steady paycheck coming in, Joyce can now concentrate full time on his re-election campaign.
Joyce may continue this campaign because his suspension is an administrative action that does not affect his employment as a judge, Pennsylvania State Department Spokeswoman Catherine Ennis told The Associated Press Friday. "He's not technically out of office," Ennis said.
Joyce, a Republican from Erie who was elected to the state Superior Court in 1997, is seeking retention to another 10-year term on the court.
Joyce is the first state appellate judge to be charged with a crime — and the first to be suspended — in more than a decade, The Associated Press reports.
While an indictment is not proof of guilt, the feds don't usually indict people on a whim (not counting Scooter Libby, of course).
The bad news, of course, is that people now know who Joyce is. Retention elections are automatic unless somebody knows your name and they have a reason to vote against you. See Russell Nigro, who lost his retention bid to the state Supreme Court in 2005 because voters wanted to punish somebody for the legislative pay grab.
Voters will remember Joyce as the indicted judge and will vote "No" on his retention in November. That is unless Joyce wises up and quits the race before we get to November. That would be decent thing to do. He should be more concerned with clearing his name than winning an election.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas