It’s working. Lives are changing. And all for the better.
The Clinton County Treatment Court celebrated another success Monday as one more participant completed and graduated from the program.
Clinton County Judge Mike Salisbury, dressed in shorts and a casual shirt, smiled broadly as he introduced Carrie to the group gathered in Riverview Park on Carrie’s big day.
“Carrie is graduating today from treatment court. She gave us a few minor headaches… but she has completed Phase 3,” he said, presenting her with several items in honor of the accomplishment. She now enters the Aftercare Phase of treatment court.
Read more in the Lock Haven Express.
The Supreme Court has approved a new public access policy for case records filed in and maintained by the appellate and trial courts. The policy's adoption marks the Court's continued commitment to making case records open and accessible to the public while safeguarding sensitive, private information contained in those records. The policy becomes effective January 6, 2018, allowing a one-year implementation period for the courts, lawyers and court users to prepare for the transition.
The Court's policy, explanatory report, and a chart entitled Limits on Public Access to the Unified Judicial System of Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts (listing restrictions imposed by existing legal authority) are available on the UJS website.
Read the full story in the Board newsletter.
Old-time justices of the peace often practiced justice by a wink and a nod. Outcomes often were rooted in local custom, backgrounds of the parties, relationships and politics among plaintiffs and defendants, police and the accused and a variety of factors only loosely connected with the law.
Pennsylvania has made major strides in professionalizing the “minor judiciary” over the last 25 years, members of which are now known as magisterial district judges. More of them have formal legal training. Most counties have central courts to remove preliminary criminal matters from what were, in effect, the closed doors of the neighborhood office. Pay has been increased to help produce more qualified candidates. There is a statewide disciplinary system.
Read more in Citizens Voice.
Another person in the Centre County Courthouse is being scolded by Harrisburg.
On Tuesday, Judge Jonathan Grine received a “letter of counsel” from the Judiciary Conduct Board.
“Following an investigation into a complaint initiated after a referral from the Disciplinary Board...regarding conduct that took place in 2014 between Judge Jonathan D. Grine and Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, the board voted to resolve the complaint by issuing a letter of counsel to the judge,” the JCB said in a press release.
Read more in Centre Daily.
Bradford C. Timbers broke just about every ethics rule written for judges. He was charged by disciplinary authorities for coming to work drunk, attempting to fix a traffic case, screaming profanities in court and patting his secretary on her buttocks.
The troubled Allentown district justice was removed from the bench in 1997, just three years after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created the Judicial Conduct Board to police the state's judges. District justices have since been renamed magisterial district judges, but while the title has changed, one thing has remained constant: the state's minor judiciary is plagued by misconduct.
Read the full story in the Legal Intelligencer.
Westmoreland County's Day Reporting Center will close Sept. 1, putting an end to the prison diversionary program that has been marred by criticism and controversy since its inception in 2010.
Court officials announced Friday the center that provided drug treatment and other counseling and training programs at one location for up to eight hours a day would be replaced by a yet undisclosed effort to improve care for addicts.
“This is not indicative of a failure. The treatment of drug addiction is constantly evolving,” said Common Pleas Court President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr
Read more in Tribune Live.
Two Philadelphia police officers injured in a 2013 elevator accident at the city’s Criminal Justice Center — three years before an elevator crash there paralyzed a sheriff’s deputy — have settled their lawsuit against the company that maintains city buildings and its elevator subcontractor.
The lawsuit by Grace Gardner and Robert Lucini against U.S. Facilities Inc. and Schindler Elevator Corp. was supposed to have gone to trial before a jury on Wednesday before Common Pleas Court Judge Linda Carpenter.
Read more from Philly.com.
More judges are carrying weapons than most people realize, even though attacks on judges remain rare, surveys and experts say.
The question of whether judges should be armed got renewed attention this week after an Ohio judge who was carrying a gun was shot outside his courthouse and fired back.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese is recovering from the shooting Monday in Steubenville, along the Ohio River roughly 30 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Read more in Philly.com.
Pennsylvania has a budget, but not enough money to pay for it. Gov. Wolf is acting like a bystander, not a player. Most members of the House and Senate have gone to the Shore or the mountains to rest up until after Labor Day. Who would have guessed that doing nothing could be so exhausting?
As one observer succinctly put it: “This isn’t governing, this is an embarrassment.” That person was Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), president pro tem of the state Senate…
…Do you advocate merit selection of judges? Clearer language about the state’s obligation to fund public education? Changing outmoded language on absentee voting? Forbid the state to spend any money – including legislative pay – unless a state budget is passed with the money needed to fund it?
Read the full opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Small courts in Pennsylvania are not consistently using professional interpreters, according to a recent report on 19 magisterial district courts in Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
This spring, Temple and Villanova law students spent 70 hours observing judges and court staff in districts with a large number of residents who are not fluent in English.
During the course of their field work, the students observed lapses that included everything from obscured signage — intended to inform parties of their rights to an interpreter — to a judge holding a hearing in English when a litigant said he understood only "a little." When the man's case was dismissed, he didn't understand, so the judge gave a thumbs up and said "bueno," according to a subsequent report.
Read more from Newsworks.
What you'll find
PMC press releases, statements, and news coverage of our work, in addition to the latest news on Pennsylvania's courts, judicial elections, ethics, discipline and more.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges
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