June 29, 2019

Gaughan confirmed for early appointment to vacant Pike judgeship

Gaughan, center, with Rep. Mike Peifer and Sen. Lisa Baker

HARRISBURG – In the May primary election, Gaughan received both the Republican and Democratic nominations from county voters and if elected in November she’ll begin serving a full 10-year-term on the bench in January.

The state legislature cleared the way for her to assume the post early

Pike County has only had one judge the past three years as former President Judge Joseph Kameen took medical leave and eventually retired in 2018. The need for the second judgeship to be filled now rather than in January was noted by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel held a hearing Thursday to consider Gaughan’s nomination, and made a favorable recommendation to the full Senate, which later voted unanimously to confirm her for the post.

“Kelly has a compelling set of legal and enforcement credentials that well prepare her to serve as judge, and she will fill a tremendous void and a tremendous need in our community,” said Baker. “She is compassionate, hard-working, and knowledgeable, and I know she will serve our county with fairness and integrity.” Baker also noted that the Pike County Bar Association urged a positive vote.

Addressing the Senators Gaughan said, “I’m really here today at the urging of the members of our community and of my colleagues.” She said that having only one judge in the county since mid-2017 “put an undue burden on the current president judge (Gregory H. Chelak)” and created a “backlog” of cases in the court system. She said people who want to have their day in court have been waiting and she hopes that by having two judges back on the bench, cases will be heard more swiftly.

Rep. Mike Peifer, R-139th, who serves 10 of Pike County’s 13 municipalities, thanked the Senate for its quick action to hold a hearing and confirm Gaughan.

“We’re excited to have her,” Peifer said. “The people of Pike County deserve to have this seat filled. Since she already received the nominations of voters in both parties in Pike County, it only makes sense to seat her now.”

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