HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pittsburgh judge who spent more than a decade playing cornerback for the Steelers said Monday he will be a candidate for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court next year.
Dwayne Woodruff told The Associated Press that he made the decision in the past week or two to seek one of three vacancies on the seven-justice court that will go before the voters in 2015.
"I think being on the Supreme Court's going to give me a larger platform in regard to serving the people in the commonwealth, particularly when it comes to education and caring of families," said Woodruff, a Democrat who has been an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge since 2005.
Woodruff, 57, had 37 interceptions while playing in the NFL from 1979 to 1990, and was a rookie on the Steelers squad that beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.
About a dozen names are floating around as potential 2015 candidates for the state Supreme Court, and three Democrats on Superior Court have so far confirmed their candidacies: Anne Lazarus, David Wecht and Christine Donohue. Superior Court Judge John Bender, a Republican, has said he hoped to run.
Another confirmed candidate is Justice Correale Stevens, who was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett last year to fill a seat opened by the resignation of Justice Joan Orie Melvin, following her conviction in a public corruption case. Stevens said Monday he has decided he will seek the job on a permanent basis.
The other two openings are a vacancy created by the sudden retirement last month of Justice Seamus McCaffery, whose involvement in a pornographic email scandal had become public, and the spot held by Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who is about to step down after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Woodruff described the email scandal, which centered on employees of the state attorney general's office, as "unfortunate" and an embarrassment to the entire state.
"I just think when you look at our bench, you should see every judge that's honest and forthcoming and has the best interests of the commonwealth at heart," he said Monday.
Woodruff was nominated to fill a county vacancy in 2004 by then-Gov. Ed Rendell, after which he was elected to a full 10-year term.
He played for a few years on the Steelers with Lynn Swann, who ran an unsuccessful campaign as a Republican against Rendell in 2006.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 Republican majority, counting the empty seat held most recently by McCaffery, a Democrat.