PART II. CONDUCT STANDARDS
[207 PA. CODE CH. 51]
Amendment of Rule 17 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of District Justices; No. 195 Magisterial Doc. No. 1, Book No. 2
[33 Pa.B. 3359]
And Now, this 25th day of June, 2003, Rule 17 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of District Justices is amended to read as follows.
To the extent that notice of the proposed rulemaking would be required by Rule 103 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Judicial Administration or otherwise, the immediate amendment of Rule 17 is hereby found to be required in the interests of justice and efficient administration.
This Order shall be effective immediately and shall be processed in accordance with Rule 103(b) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Judicial Administration.
TITLE 207. JUDICIAL CONDUCT
PART II. CONDUCT STANDARDS
CHAPTER 51. STANDARDS OF CONDUCT OF DISTRICT JUSTICES
PENNSYLVANIA RULES FOR DISTRICT JUSTICES
Rule 17. Supervision of District [Justices] Justice Courts by President Judges.
(A) The president judge of the court of common pleas of a judicial district shall exercise general supervision and administrative [control] authority over district [justices] justice courts within [his] the judicial district.
(B) The president judge's administrative authority over district justice courts within the judicial district includes but is not limited to, and shall be governed by, the following:
(1) Records--The president judge may designate a person to maintain personnel and other records in such form as directed by the president judge or required by general or local rule.
(2) Meetings with District Justices--The president judge may require the attendance of district justices in the judicial district, individually or collectively, at meetings with the president judge or his or her representative.
(3) Staff in the District Justice Courts--
(a) Except where minimum job qualifications for staff in the district justice courts are prescribed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the president judge may prescribe minimum job qualifications for staff in the district justice courts in the judicial district.
(b) The president judge may establish a classification system and job descriptions for all authorized staff in the district justice courts in the judicial district. The president judge may establish general procedures regarding the hiring, firing, supervision, and discipline of all authorized staff in the district justice courts in the judicial district.
(c) Subject to subparagraphs (a) and (b) above, a district justice
(i) shall be responsible for the management of authorized staff in his or her court;
(ii) shall assign work among authorized staff in his or her court, and;
(iii) may select one authorized staff member as personal staff.
(d) In the interest of efficient administration of the judicial district, the president judge may
(i) transfer or reassign a staff member, other than personal staff who may be transferred or reassigned only with the consent of the district justice, from one district justice court in the judicial district to another, and;
(ii) hire and assign, as appropriate, temporary or floater staff.
(e) The president judge may establish a system of performance evaluation for staff in the district justice courts in the judicial district.
(f) The president judge may prescribe initial and ongoing training for staff in the district justice courts in the judicial district.
(4) District Justice Leave; Coverage During Leave--
(a) The president judge may coordinate leave for district justices in the judicial district to assure access to judicial resources.
(b) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (a) above, a district justice shall enjoy autonomy with respect to choosing when to take leave, subject to reasonable coordination by the president judge with the schedules of the other district justices in the judicial district.
(5) Office Hours--In consultation with the district justices, the president judge may designate the ordinary hours of district justice courts in the judicial district in accordance with Rule 103 of the Rules and Standards with Respect to Offices of District Justices and the efficient administration of justice.
(6) Temporary Assignments; Transfer of Cases--In consultation with the affected district justice(s), the president judge may order temporary assignments of district justices or reassignment of cases or certain classes of cases to other magisterial districts within the judicial district or to central courts within the judicial district.
(7) Conduct of District Justices--When a complaint is received with respect to the conduct of a district justice, the president judge may in his or her discretion, review the matter with the affected district justice and may take any action that the president judge deems appropriate to assure the efficient administration of justice. Contemporaneous notice of any such action taken by the president judge resulting in reassignment of cases or otherwise affecting the duties of the district justice shall be given to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Court Administrator of Pennsylvania.
(8) Procedural Audits--The president judge may direct that procedural audits of a district justice court be conducted to assure compliance with general and local rules, administrative policies and procedures, and the District Justice Automated Office Clerical Procedures Manual. Such procedural audits shall be separate from the fiscal audits conducted by the county controller or state Auditor General, which shall be limited in scope to the accounts of the district justice. Such procedural audits may be conducted by the district court administrator, an outside independent auditor, or such other person as the president judge may designate.
Official Note: [The striking of constables from the heading and body of Rule 17 is pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court holding in Rosenwald v. Barbieri, 501 Pa. 563, 462 A.2d 644, 1983.]
This Rule is promulgated in order to secure the efficient and effective administration of the district justice courts. It recognizes that district justices are the judicial officials charged with the legal and administrative responsibilities within their respective magisterial districts. Designed to further the unified judicial system in each of the judicial districts, this Rule contemplates a cooperative approach to the administration of the district justice courts, acknowledging the independence of the judicial officers and the supervisory role of the president judges.
This Rule was amended in 2003 to more specifically outline the authority, powers, and responsibilities of the president judges with regard to management of the district justice system. In so doing, however, it was not intended that this be an exclusive list of powers and responsibilities, nor was it intended to limit the president judges' authority to the areas listed. Given the diverse needs of judicial districts throughout Pennsylvania, how president judges exercise this authority will recognizably be varied. In general, president judges have broad authority with regard to management of the district justice courts, but it seemed advisable that certain areas of authority and responsibility be specifically defined.
With regard to paragraph (B)(2), president judges or their representatives are encouraged to meet regularly with the district justices in the judicial district to foster and maintain open lines of communication regarding the management of the district justice system.
The term ''authorized staff'' as used in this Rule means staff positions that have been approved, funded, and hired in accordance with all applicable personnel policies and procedures.
Subparagraphs (B)(3)(c) and (B)(4)(b) limit the president judges' authority in certain areas that are within the district justices' discretion. With regard to subparagraph (B)(3)(c), see 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 102 and 2301(a)(1), and Rule 5C. With regard to subparagraph (B)(4)(b), see Rule 3A.
Subparagraph (B)(3)(d)(i) gives president judges authority to transfer or reassign district justice court staff as needed, except for personal staff as provided in subparagraph (B)(3)(c), who may be transferred or reassigned only with the consent of the affected district justice. It is contemplated that president judges would consult with and give sufficient notice to the affected district justices before making transfers.
Nothing in subparagraph (B)(3)(f) is intended to circumvent any training program established or required by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or the Court Administrator of Pennsylvania.
As to paragraph (B)(6), compare Pa.R.Crim.P. 131(B) relating to central locations for preliminary hearings and summary trials. In addition, if the judicial district is part of a regional administrative unit, district justices may be assigned to any other judicial district in the unit. See Pa.R.J.A. No. 701(E).
Nothing in paragraph (B)(7) is intended to contradict or circumvent the constitutionally established process for the suspension, removal, and discipline of district justices. See Pa. Const. art. V, § 18; see also 207 Pa. Code Chs. 101--119 (Judicial Conduct Board rules of procedure). President judges do not have authority to suspend or discipline district justices.
All references to constables were stricken from this Rule pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's holding in Rosenwald v. Barbieri, 501 Pa. 563, 462 A.2d 644 (1983).
Adopted, effective Feb. 1, 1973. Amended and effective April 3, 1973; amended April 25, 1979, effective in 30 days; June 30, 1982, effective 30 days after July 17, 1982; amended and effective June 20, 1985; amended June 25, 2003, effective immediately.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-1345. Filed for public inspection July 11, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]
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