Ronald Castille

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Ronald Castille
Court Information:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Title:   Former justice
Active:   1993-2014
Chief:   2008-2014
Past position:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1991-1993
Past position 2:   District attorney
Past term 2:   1986-1991
Personal History
Born:   3/16/1944
Party:   Republican
Undergraduate:   Auburn University, 1966
Law School:   University of Virginia School of Law, 1971
Military service:   U.S. Marine Corps
Candidate 2013:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
Position:  Retention
State:  Pennsylvania
Election information 2013:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  11/5/2013
Retention vote %:  68.5% ApprovedA

Ronald Castille was the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He was first elected to the court as a Republican in a partisan election in 1993. Castille was retained in 2003 and 2013. He retired from the bench in December 2014 due to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. He served as chief justice of the court from 2008 until his retirement.[1][2][3]


After graduating from high school at an United States Air Force base in Fukuoka, Japan, Castille attended Auburn University on a Navy ROTC scholarship.[4] Castille received a B.S. degree in economics from Auburn University in 1966. In 1971, he earned his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.[5]

Military service

Upon his graduation from Auburn in 1966, Castille was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a rifle platoon commander in the Republic of Vietnam. He was awarded various medals and ribbons for his service in combat including the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for valor, two Purple Heart medals for combat wounds, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Naval Unit Citation, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.[1]

In March of 1967 during Operation DeSoto, Castille was awarded the Bronze Star for directing the evacuation of Marines who had been ambushed by North Vietnamese Army troops in an open rice paddy. Castille was severely wounded during the firefight. His wounds later led to the amputation of his right leg. After 15 months of recuperation in the Naval hospital system, Castille was medically retired from the U.S. Marine Corps.[4][6]


After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1971, Castille began his legal career in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. He served twenty years in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, first as a deputy district attorney under then-D.A. Ed Rendell, and later as the district attorney. He was twice elected by the citizens of Philadelphia as district attorney.[1][7] As district attorney, Castille sent over forty-five people to death row.[8]

While working as a district attorney, Castille began Philadelphia's Youth Aid Panels to provide alternative treatment to first-time minor offenders.[9]

In 1991, Castille entered private practice with the law firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay and worked there until his election to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1993.[1]



Castille was retained to the Supreme Court with 68.5 percent of the vote on November 5, 2013.(99% of districts reporting)[10][11]

Bar Association rating

Yes check.svg The Pennsylvania Bar Association recommended Castille for retention.[12]


The Pennsylvania Bar Association recently endorsed Castille's retention as follows:

Since becoming Chief Justice five years ago, Chief Justice Castille has presided over Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System during an especially challenging and tumultuous period....He is credited for his efforts in reorganizing the court system in Philadelphia, for strengthening and improving the judicial discipline system, and for encouraging lawyers to render public interest and legal services work [for the indigent]. He is recognized for his...excellent judicial temperament, strong work ethic and substantial output of articulate and well-reasoned opinions. Although he would face mandatory retirement...through the end of 2014 if retained, the [PA Bar Association] Commission believes the citizens of the Commonwealth would be well-served by the steadying influence of his continuing leadership and recommends his retention.[13]

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO announced Chief Justice Castille among the state judicial candidates they endorse for retention in the November General Election.[15]

Opposition to retention

A group called Rock the Capital fought against the retention of Chief Justice Castille in 2013. A report issued by Tim Potts, founder of Democracy Rising Pa., appeared on the Rock the Capital website on May 20, 2013.

One of Potts' reasons for fighting the retention was Castille's age of 69 years. Since the mandatory age of retirement for judges in Pennsylvania is 70, Potts argued that Castille would only be able to serve one year of his 10-year term if retained. Additionally, Potts pointed to a controversial 2006 pay raise decision in which the high court ruled in favor of judicial pay raises at the same time that legislators rescinded their own raises due to public opposition. The report also points to other scandals and controversies that occurred under Chief Justice Castille's watch.

Castille himself, in an interview with the Daily News, pointed to the fact that he had written and participated in hundreds of cases throughout his career and should not be judged on a couple decisions.[16][17]


Campaign contributors

In his 1993 bid for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Castille raised a total of $342,924. To view the details of Castille's contributions, visit: Follow the Money: Ronald Castille

In the news

Expenses controversy

In November 2010, The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed an extensive record of Castille taking gifts from friends, litigants and lobbyists. He took expenses-paid trips to the exclusive Pennsylvania Society weekend held each December at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, golf outings, and a judicial conference in Puerto Rico.

State law requires jurists to report gifts over $250 and Castille did, though he may have under-reported their actual values.

In December 2009, The Inquirer ran a multi-part expose on the backlogs, administrative errors and other malfeasance within the Philadelphia court system. This forced Justice Castille to call for a major review and revamping of the city's justice system.

Several justices on the court and Castille had management oversight responsibilities for all levels of the state's court system. Justice Castille oversaw Philadelphia, so he hired Washington attorney Bill Chadwick to review the system.

Later, Castille hired Chadwick to look into $12 million in legal and development costs for Philadelphia's proposed new family court building. Castille admitted he did not do a good job of managing the project, which he pushed for several years. The new court offices were expected to cost taxpayers $200 million when they are built.

Chief Justice Castille earned just under $192,000 each year.[18][19]

League of Women Voters lawsuit

In a statement made in May 2008, Chief Justice Ronald Castille wrote that the League of Women Voters suit "slanders the entire Supreme Court of Pennsylvania with baseless and irresponsible charges." The lawsuit claims that one or more of the justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court used the League of Women Voters' 2005 legal challenge of the state slots law as leverage for the legislative and judicial pay raise of 2005. "The filing parties may have subjected themselves to sanctions, and the attorney may have subjected himself to disciplinary action," Castille wrote. Former Chief Justice Ralph Cappy is the only defendant named in the suit, which cites information from unnamed lawmakers. The league's lawsuit claims that prior to a decision on the slot machine case, Cappy entered into secret talks with lawmakers to secure a pay raise for state judges. The suit states Cappy acted with the knowledge of Governor Ed Rendell. Chuck Ardo, Rendell's spokesman, dismissed the allegations in the lawsuit. Cappy, who resigned in January, denied the allegations in a statement issued Tuesday. "I do not understand why a respected organization such as the League of Women Voters would associate itself with this irresponsible lawsuit," he wrote.[20][21]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Castille received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.2, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of -0.02 that justices received in Pennsylvania. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[22]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Pennsylvania Judicial System, "Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille," accessed October 7, 2013
  2. The Daily Item, "Voters to fill a historic number of justice seats," December 6, 2014
  3. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "After 21 years on Pennsylvania Supreme Court bench, Ronald D. Castille retires," January 6, 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tiger Tales, "Alumin Spotlight, Chief Justice Ron Castille," accessed October 7, 2013
  5. Project Vote Smart, "Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille (PA)," accessed January 6, 2015
  6. The Library of Congress, "Veterans History Project: Ronald D. Castille Collection," accessed October 7, 2013
  7., "Chief justice seat awaits Castille Ralph J. Cappy's plan to retire sets the stage for the scrappy former D.A. Castille is in line to move up early," September 12, 2007
  8. The Morning Call, "Ex-Philadelphia District Attorney touts crime-fighting record in judgeship bid," March 20, 1993
  9. Penn State Law, "The Hon. Ronald D. Castille to deliver commencement address in Carlisle," April 23, 2013
  10. Pennsylvania Department of State, "Unofficial 2013 Municipal Election Results," accessed January 6, 2015
  11. Politics PA, "Castille to Seek Retention; No Supreme Court Race in 2013," January 2013
  12. The Pennsylvania Record, "Pa. Bar Assoc. recommends four state appellate court judges for retention," September 13, 2013
  13. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  14. The Pennsylvania Record, "Pa. Bar Assoc. recommends four state appellate court judges for retention," September 13, 2013
  15. Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, "Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorses state judicial candidates in November general election," October 3, 2013
  16. Rock the Capital, "Retain Ron Castille on the Supreme Court?," May 20, 2013
  17., "Grassroots group wants Castille gone," May 20, 2013
  18. Pennsylvania Independent, "PA Chief Justice In Spotlight Again," November 22, 2010
  19. Pennsylvania Judiciary requests funding increase for underfunded courts
  20., "Suit 'slanders' state Supreme Court, Chief Justice Castille says," May 20, 2008
  21. ABA Journal, "Former Pa. Chief Justice Says Lawsuit is 'Preposterous'," May 21, 2008
  22. Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012