Lawyer gets nod for Judge Blair | News, Sports, Jobs

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A longtime attorney who works for Blair County has been identified as the candidate to fill a vacant county court seat.

Ilissa Zimmerman of Duncansville, a part-time assistant district attorney and county master for divorce and custody matters, is on a list of judicial nominees that a state Senate committee approved Wednesday, as interviewed and approved by Governor Tom Wolf’s office.

State Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, a member of the Rules and Executive Appointments Committee, voted in favor of the slate of judicial nominees for several counties, including Blair, which will now go to the Senate Judiciary Committee of the United States. state and must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

Ward said the Judiciary Committee could take action as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zimmerman, an Altoona native who has practiced law since 1984, declined to comment on his nomination Thursday as it remains subject to further scrutiny.

“I really can’t say anything right now because nothing is final until it’s final,” said Zimmermann.

Ward also warned that the nomination is not yet final, but confirmed his support for Zimmerman to fill the county judicial seat that has been vacant since December, when Judge Daniel J. Milliron retired to senior judge status. .

“Ilissa has a wealth of experience, from working in the district attorney’s office, from working in family court,” said Ward. “I know she will be a great asset to Blair County.”

The governor’s office provided the Altoona Mirror on Thursday with the names of those who applied for the county’s vacant judicial seat before the May 2 deadline.

Besides Zimmerman, the other candidates were: David Consiglio, David Gorman, John Heslop, Christian Kersetter, Fred Miller, Gerald Nelson, Ashley Owens and Joel Seelye.

Ward said she encouraged Zimmerman to apply after being told the governor’s office was interested in Democratic candidates since Milliron was a Democrat.

The option to leave the seat vacant until the fall came up, Ward added, but she didn’t want that to happen.

“I had to be resourceful, and Ilissa came to mind,” said Ward.

Zimmerman, who has practiced law for about 38 years, primarily in Blair County, is a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law. She has also been active in the Blair County Bar Association and the Greater Altoona Jewish Federation.

Blair County Democratic Commissioner Laura Burke said she was surprised to learn Zimmerman’s name on the list of judicial nominees because she didn’t know Zimmerman had applied.

Despite a 2021 Commonwealth Court ruling that forced Wolf’s office in November to release names and applications submitted for a Commonwealth Court vacancy, the governor’s office declined, until Thursday , to identify candidates for the Blair County Judicial Seat, as requested by the Altoona Mirror through a right-to-know request in early May. The Mirror’s request for their nominations is still pending.

Burke, who has met with some of the candidates interested in the job, said the governor’s office has not contacted her for comment, as some people have suggested.

“The process was not transparent to the people who applied, to me, to you, or to the public,” said Burke. “It’s the only place where the right to know doesn’t help with transparency.”

Presiding Judge Elizabeth Doyle declined Thursday to comment on Zimmerman’s impending appointment, but she welcomed the idea of ​​having another full-time judge in the courthouse.

“I am delighted that the efforts of Senator Ward and Governor Wolf may soon result in a judicial appointment for Blair County,” Doyle said. “It would greatly help the justice system and the citizens of the county.”

Besides Doyle, the other Blair County judges are Timothy M. Sullivan, who is retiring in December, Wade A. Kagarise and Jackie Atherton Bernard.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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