Superior Court’s Political Decision Voiding Rule of Capture Challenged

A PA Superior Court decision authored by a senior (retired) judge was a foolish attempt at policy-making threatening havoc over the rule of capture. SWN is suing.

Something very wrong happened in Pennsylvania’s Superior Court earlier this year as a mere two judges decided to get into policy-making and completely blew it on something called the rule of capture.

The Superior Court is an intermediary appeals court officially described as follows:

The Superior Court hears appeals in criminal cases and most civil cases from the Common Pleas Courts, including matters involving children and families.

Asking criminal and family law attorneys to decide oil and gas legal issues is a recipe for havoc and that’s what’s happened. Fortunately, Southwestern Energy (SWN) is challenging the result.

The author of the offending opinion was Superior Court Senior Judge John L. Musmanno whose workload, when he was a full member of the court, was 65% criminal or family law. It was, technically, a three-judge panel, but one of the judges didn’t participate, leaving only Musmanno and one commissioned (full) judge by the name of Susan Peikes Gantman, who was a family law specialist and now serves as President Judge of the Superior Court.

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