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Merit retention elections are for current, sitting judges who are seeking to be re-elected – or retained – at the end of their 10-year terms. These judges are seeking another 10-year term, and they are not running against anyone. Rather, voters are being asked – via a “yes” or “no” referendum – whether these judges should remain on the bench based on their performance, qualifications and merit. In Pennsylvania, retention elections are held every-other year during the general election, typically the first Tuesday in November.


The ACBA offers a rating of either “Recommended” or “Not Recommended” for all Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judges seeking retention, as well as Allegheny County-based judges seeking retention on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Superior Court or Supreme Court.  All ACBA members – attorneys who often practice in front of these judges – are surveyed, asking whether each judge should be retained based on each judge’s performance, reputation and temperament.


Unlike ratings for candidates seeking to be elected for judge for the first time, there are only two possible ratings for retention judges: Recommended and Not Recommended.

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