Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Bucks County Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (10 YR Term) {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a class 2A county, is the 7th Judicial District of Pennsylvania. First established in 1683, it hears all Criminal, Civil, Family, and Orphan's (Probate) matters. The Court consists of thirteen judges, and is located in Doylestown, Bucks County Pennsylvania. It supervises all Adult Probation, Juvenile Probation (including the Bucks County Youth Center), and Domestic Relations services, the Law Library, and provides administrative services for a twenty-court system of limited jurisdiction courts (special courts) - issuing authority in all felony and misdemeanor cases, and hears all traffic and summary cases. It has concurrent jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy is less than $12,000. Source:

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Denise Bowman

  • Candidate picture

    Grace Deon

  • Candidate picture

    Charissa Liller

  • Candidate picture

    Allen Toadvine

  • Candidate picture

    Jessica L. VanderKam

  • Candidate picture

    Jordan Yeager

Biographical Information

What is the most important quality in a judge?

Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a case?

As a member of the Judiciary, what can you do to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

Experience Trial attorney with 20 years experience representing clients in the courtroom in wide variety of disputes (contracts, torts, employment, real estate, marital agreements, guardianships, will contests)
Education Univ. of Delaware, BA-Political Sci./Foreign Lang. & Lit. (1995); Temple Univ., Juris Doctor (1998)
Campaign Phone (215) 630-7615
Twitter @bowmanforjudge
A mindset of duty and service is the most important quality in a Judge. Judges play an integral role in protecting and promoting the principles of justice and rule of law. Thus, Judges are duty bound to uphold our Federal and State Constitutions, to be open-minded, to act in a fair and impartial manner, and to be unafraid to make decisions based upon the law and the facts established through admissible evidence - even when such decisions may be unpopular. Satisfaction of these duties is essential to promoting the impartiality, integrity and independence of our judicial branch of government.
Judges have a duty to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the bench as an institution. Thus, as a Judge, I would recuse myself any time Canon 1 or Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct is implicated. This would include, but not be limited to, instances where I have an actual conflict of interest, personally know one of the litigants or witnesses or someone close to them, have a financial interest in the matter, or am aware of material information which could affect the proceedings. This also would include instances in which I may believe I could be fair and impartial but there is a possibility that others may reasonably question my ability to do so. Recusal in such circumstances is necessary to promote the impartiality of the judiciary as Judges are required to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Often times a person's day in court, as a litigant, witness, or victim, is one of the most important days in his or her life. In many instances, that individual has waited a long time to be heard. Frequently, that individual is navigating a stressful or emotionally difficult situation. Acknowledging the importance of each person’s experience in the courtroom is essential to providing access to justice to all. This includes being fully prepared before entering the courtroom as the Judge and using procedures to ensure that all litigants are afforded their right to be heard, including those who are not represented by counsel. It also includes keeping an open mind, applying the law fairly and impartially, as well as, treating people with compassion, dignity and respect.
Experience 27-year trial lawyer, regularly appearing before state and federal courts, at the trial and appellate levels; currently specializes in employment, commercial and special education litigation.
Education Central Bucks High School East; St. Joseph's University; Temple University School of Law.
Campaign Phone (267) 753-0777
Commitment to the core values of the judicial role: independence, impartiality and integrity. Judges following these principles ensure justice through an unbiased interpretation and application of the law to the evidence before the court. Judges are entrusted to make decisions that significantly impact the lives of those appearing before them. As such, the public has the right to expect that judges (who are public servants) will conduct themselves guided by the highest ethical standards, both in and outside of the courtroom.
A judge should recuse herself or himself in cases where a conflict of interest arises, meaning that the judge’s ability to rule impartially (in an unbiased or unprejudiced manner), may be compromised. I would recuse myself from proceedings involving: former clients as a party or a material witness; attorneys from my law firm, Eastburn and Gray, P.C.; personal knowledge of the disputed facts in the case; and, instances when I, my spouse, daughter, extended family members or friends have an economic or non-economic interest in the outcome of a matter before me.
Achieving fair and effective administration of justice for all Pennsylvanians having business before the court should occur regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or status. As a judge, I would: grant permissible waivers of court fees due to an individual’s inability to pay; advise unrepresented parties about available programs to engage legal counsel at no cost or at a reduced cost through Legal Aid and Bar Association programs; permit testimony by telephone when doing so would not prejudice a party in the action; ensure that unrepresented parties understand their rights and the rules applicable to the court proceeding; require interpreters for those coming before the court with a language barrier; have extra patience when interacting with unrepresented parties; provide necessary accommodations to individuals with cognitive and/or physical disabilities to enable participation in the proceeding; and, support community civic programs to educate the public about the court system.  
Experience 20 years' trial experience in all divisions of the Court w/ most significant experience in 2 busiest divisions. Former prosecutor, former social worker & now family law attorney for the last 16 years
Education B.S. Psychology, cum laude J.D. University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Email address
Campaign Phone (267) 818-9050
Twitter @CharissaLiller
Fairness. A judge should be able to set aside her or his own point of view and be able to commit to impartiality when hearing a matter. To be fair requires open mindedness, to listen to the different positions of each side and to then incorporate one's prior experience (for me, that experience is as a family law attorney, former prosecutor, former social worker, mental health attorney, and mother) when making a decision. All of my experience representing people from every demographic from every community in this County on both sides of all matters that come before this Court, plus my experience as a social worker and mental health attorney, gives me a unique ability to be open minded. Based on my 20 years of experience living through cases from start to finish with my clients, I understand the importance of treating parties, witnesses, and attorneys with courtesy to further instill that sense of fairness.
If a close friend or family member was involved in a case before me (as a party or witness), I would most likely recuse myself from the case. It is always the best practice to immediately disclose a potential conflict as soon as it is discovered to ensure swift judicial economy so the matter may be assigned to another judge in a timely manner to prevent a delay in the proceeding.
I believe that justice comes with experience. To ensure individuals in our Court have access to justice, it is imperative that a judge have experience in the area of law in which they are ruling. People come into the Family Court without an attorney more often than any other division of the Court, and free attorneys are not assigned to represent them like they are in the Criminal Court. Since I have 20 years of trial experience in this Court, with the last 16 years mainly as a family law attorney, I'd be able to ensure that all people appearing before me have access to justice, not just those who are fortunate to afford an attorney. Based on my decades of experience, I have the ability to render decisions promptly with common sense & practical terms tailored to each specific case, even if a party representing him/herself is unsure of what type of terms they want in an order. I'd also make prompt scheduling of family law matters a priority so people don't wait 3 months for a hearing.
Experience I have practiced law in Bucks County for 40 years. My practice has been varied, and has included family law, real estate law, land use and development, business transactions and corporate law.
Education Catholic University of America, May 1976; Villanova University School of Law, May 1979
Email address
Judicial temperament, which I believe is the ability to exhibit patience and understanding in the face of hostility, to be open minded and fair to all litigants no matter what the situation, and most importantly, to be compassionate and apply common sense in all cases before me.
As any Jurist, I would be guided by the Code of Judicial Conduct which addresses any potential conflicts of interest. Obviously, family members and close personal friends could never appear before me. Former clients of my law firm would be another area of concern. Full disclosure would be made to the parties and a thorough examination of the circumstances would be conducted.
In order to ensure universal access to the legal system, we all must be willing to sacrifice. By that I mean attorneys throughout the Commonwealth have to be willing to devote time for free or at a reduced rate to help those who cannot afford representation. The Bucks County Bar Association has done a tremendous job on this front. As a Judge, I would strongly encourage our legal community to continue and expand upon their pro bono service.
Experience I represent clients in every Division of our Court, and primarily litigate and represent families in Family and Orphans’ Court. Former Law Clerk in Bucks; Court-Appointed Counsel; Appellate Litigator.
Education J.D., Penn State Dickinson School of Law; B.A., Michigan State University, James Madison College
Campaign Phone (215) 968-4700
Integrity is the most important quality in a judge, which in my mind goes hand-in-hand with character. Without these ingredients, a judge is ill-equipped to provide the fair results that people deserve and need. I also firmly believe that compassion for people and an understanding of the difficulties they are facing can distinguish a good judge from a great judge. We need judges that can deliver fair results, with compassion.
I would recuse myself from a case if I had a personal connection to the case, the parties, or the lawyers involved in the matter. I would never want people to feel that my decisions were improperly influenced and would strive to ensure that everyone felt that they were treated fairly and with integrity.
Access to justice is only possible when people have confidence that their issues and concerns will be heard when they walk into the courtroom. It is the responsibility of judges to be patient and respectful, and to give people the time necessary to present their case. Everyone needs to feel like they received their “day in court.” As a judge, I will ensure that happens.

Judges can promote confidence in the judicial system by guaranteeing that the courtroom is a level playing field for all individuals, regardless of gender, class, race, religion, or financial means. As a judge, I will honor that responsibility to my community by demonstrating fairness, maintaining transparency in all decisions, and treating all individuals with dignity and compassion.
Experience 26 year career dedicated to justice for all, representing women facing discrimination, workers seeking fairness on the job, and standing up for communities fighting for a healthy environment.
Education Palisades High School; Cornell University; American Univ., Washington College of Law.
Campaign Phone (267) 685-6218
Twitter @yeagerforjudge
The most important quality in a judge is an open mind, an ability to truly listen, and a commitment to justice for all.
I would recuse myself from any matter in which I am currently involved or have been involved as counsel for any party. If any matter comes before the court in which my current firm has been involved during the time that I have been with the firm, I would recuse myself immediately. If any former clients or any former law firm colleagues come before the court, I would disclose the past relationship and, depending on the circumstances, either recuse or offer the litigants a chance to request recusal. Likewise, if any friend or associate appeared as a party or counsel, I would disclose the nature of relationship and depending on the circumstances, either recuse or offer the litigants a chance to request recusal. I would be guided by the Rules of Judicial Conduct, all other appropriate ethical standards, and the best practices of other judges and justices. I would seek ethics advice when appropriate and in any close call, I would recuse.
I would be an advocate within the judiciary for the expanded use of satellite courts to make the court system more accessible to people in both the lower and upper ends of the County. I would promote pro bono programs. I would promote mediation to resolve cases and keep the costs of litigation to a minimum. I would schedule court appearances and manage the calendar to limit burdens on litigants. In all aspects of the administration of justice, we must recognize how attending court in Doylestown is a burden on litigants, particularly our neighbors with limited economic means, difficulty traveling to the courthouse, medical issues, multiple jobs, and family responsibilities. I would continue to educate myself on implicit bias and its impact on the administration of justice. I would seek out ways to eliminate all bias from our courts.