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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 08-1698


Title 246--MINOR


[ 246 PA. CODE CH. 200 ]

Amendment of Rule 209 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges; No. 248 Magisterial Rules; Doc. No. 1

[38 Pa.B. 5163]
[Saturday, September 20, 2008]


Per Curiam:

   And Now, this 9th day of September, 2008, upon the recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee, the proposal having been published before adoption at Volume 38, Pennsylvania Bulletin, page 2046 (May 3, 2008), and a Final Report to be published with this Order:

   It Is Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 209 be, and hereby is, amended to read as follows.

   This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective October 1, 2008.

Annex A




Rule 209. Continuances.

*      *      *      *      *

   E.  Continuances shall be granted in compliance with federal or state law, such as the Service- members Civil Relief Act., 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 501 et seq.

   Official Note: This rule was amended in 2005 to consolidate the provisions of former Rules 320 (relating to continuances in civil actions) and 511 (relating to continuances in possessory actions) into one general rule governing continuances. The limitations set forth in subdivision C are intended to ensure that these cases proceed expeditiously. The grounds set forth in [subdivision] subdivisions D and E, of course, are not intended to be the only grounds on which a continuance will be granted.

   Adopted March 15, 1994, effective April 2, 1994. Amended December 16, 2004, effective July 1, 2005; January 6, 2005, effective January 29, 2005; September 9, 2008, effective October 1, 2008.


Amendment to Rule 209 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges

   On September 9, 2008, effective October 1, 2008, upon recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee,1 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved an amendment to Rule 209 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges.2

I.  Background

   In 2007, several magisterial district judges questioned why the rules of civil procedure did not specifically address continuances for military personnel. Based upon the reported uncertainty of some magisterial district judges in dealing with military personnel's requests for continuances, the Minor Court Rules Committee (''the Committee'') recommended an amendment to Rule 209 referencing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 501 et seq. (''Act''). The Committee believed the amendment would provide a quick statutory reference as well as foster a uniform, statewide practice.

II.  Discussion

   The Committee determined that its main concern was ensuring that magisterial district judges were aware of the Act and follow it, when appropriate. In its deliberations, the Committee reviewed a sample request for a continuance pursuant to the Act; the Act itself; 51 Pa.C.S.A. § 7314 (''Stay of proceedings when military service affects conduct thereof'') and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.46 (''Affidavit of Non-military Service'').

   The Committee decided that the simplest way to achieve its goal of compliance with the Act was through a statutory reference. While the Committee considered including a reference to the Act in the note, rather than the rule, the eventual decision was to draft a new subdivision within the rule itself. The Committee members felt strongly that individuals meeting the criteria of the Act should be granted continuances. By including the language in the rule, the exception for qualifying military personnel becomes mandatory; if simply included in the note, the reference would not be binding, as the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania does not adopt the contents of the Committee's notes to the rules.

III.  Approved Rule Changes

   To address the issues discussed above, the Committee included a new subdivision ''E,'' directly following the current subdivision ''D.'' As explained above, the new subdivision ''E'' provides a statutory reference to the Act.

   The note was also amended to clarify that subdivisions D and E are not the exclusive grounds for granting continuances.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 08-1698. Filed for public inspection September 19, 2008, 9:00 a.m.]


1  Minor Court Rules Committee Recommendation 10-2008.

2  Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Order No. 248, Magisterial Docket No. 1 (September 9, 2008).

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