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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 08-1924



[ 246 PA. CODE CH. 200 ]

Amendment of Rule 214 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges; No. 251 Magisterial Rules; Doc. No. 1

[38 Pa.B. 5844]
[Saturday, October 25, 2008]


Per Curiam:

   And Now, this 8th day of October, 2008, upon the recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee, the proposal having been published before adoption at Volume 38, Pennsylvania Bulletin, page 2151 (May 10, 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. 214 be, and hereby is, amended in the attached form.

   This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective May 1, 2009.

Annex A




Rule 214.  Subpoena; Issuance; Service.

   [A.] (A)  Magisterial district judges may issue subpoenas throughout the Commonwealth. Magisterial district judges shall not issue subpoenas in blank.

   [B.] (B)  Upon the request of a party proceeding pro se, the authorized representative of a party, or an attorney of record, the magisterial district judge may issue a subpoena signed and under the seal of the magisterial district judge. The magisterial district judge shall specify in the subpoena the name and address for service of the person subpoenaed; the name of the party on whose behalf the person is being ordered to testify; the date, time, and place at which the person is to appear; and a description of the documents or things that the person is to produce, if any.

   (1)  The party, authorized representative, or attorney of record requesting the subpoena shall provide the magisterial district court with the information required in paragraph (B).

   (2)  If the subpoena is to be issued, the magisterial district court shall fill in the information provided and return it to the requestor for service.

   [C.] (C)  A subpoena may be served upon any person within the Commonwealth by a competent adult

*      *      *      *      *

   (D)  The person making service of a subpoena must file a return of service form in the magisterial district court in which the hearing is pending within 48 hours of service, and in no event later than the commencement of the hearing. Filing under this paragraph may be accomplished by sending a copy by facsimile transmission.

   (E)  If a subpoenaed witness is under the age of 18, the parent or guardian of the witness shall be served with a copy of the subpoena in the same manner as prescribed in paragraph (C).

   Official Note:  [ See Rule 202 for definition of ''subpoena.'' Compare Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 234.2 and 402(a). ]

   [The] When issuing a subpoena, the magisterial district judge has discretion to limit the scope of [subpoenas] the subpoena to persons, documents, or things that are relevant to the cause of action before the magisterial district judge.

   [Magisterial district judges may not issue subpoenas in blank.]

   Paragraph (D) provides for filing by facsimile transmission. It is the intent of these rules that filing documents by facsimile transmission is permitted only when expressly provided for in the rules. Paragraph (D) also provides for use of a form promulgated by the Court Administrator of Pennsylvania.

   Paragraph (E) provides that parties choosing to subpoena witnesses under the age of 18 must alert the magisterial district court of the witness' age and are responsible for any additional service costs.

   See Rule 202 for definitions of ''subpoena'' and ''attorney of record.'' Compare Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 234.2 and 402(a) and Pa.R.Crim.P. 107. See also Rule 207 regarding representation by an authorized representative.

   For the scope of the contempt powers of magisterial district judges, see 42 Pa.C.S. § 4137. See also Pa.R.Crim.P. 140-142.

   Adopted Sept. 3, 2003, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Amended Jan. 6, 2005, effective Jan. 29, 2005; Oct. 8, 2008, effective May 1, 2009.


Amendment to Rule 214 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges


   On October 8, 2008, effective May 1, 2009, upon recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee,1 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved an amendment to Rule 214 of the Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges.2

I.  Background

   The Minor Court Rules Committee (''Committee'') was prompted to suggest the following changes based upon a February 28, 2008 order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.3 The Court, upon recommendation of the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee, promulgated changes in the Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure that, inter alia, would require parental notification when a subpoena is issued to a person under the age of eighteen.

II.  Discussion

   The Committee reviewed the Feb. 28, 2008 order adopting the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee's recommendation.4 The Committee discussed the benefits of the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee's proposal. Providing a parent or guardian with important information about his or her child's whereabouts was one of the chief benefits recognized by the Committee in considering adopting similar rule language. In addition, the Committee felt that consistency throughout Pennsylvania's courts is important, and that if one set of court rules was undergoing a change, the measure should be seriously considered by the Committee. Ultimately, the Committee agreed that they should follow the proposal outlined by the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee.

III.  Approved Rule Changes

   To address the issues discussed above, the Committee proposed amending Rule 214 to include a new paragraph (E) that closely tracks the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee's recommendation to the Court.

   While the Committee was implementing changes to follow the Juvenile Committee's work, it also recognized other needed changes within Rule 214. In paragraph (B), the Committee inserted several new terms. The paragraph previously stated only that subpoenas may be issued ''upon the request of a party.'' The Committee's proposal added language clarifying that a magisterial district judge may also issue subpoenas upon the request of an ''authorized representative'' or ''attorney of record.'' In 2006, the Supreme Court adopted a Committee recommendation that permits an individual with personal knowledge of the subject matter to appear on behalf of a party. See Rule 207(A)(1). The previous language of paragraph (B) was also changed to emphasize that a party representing him or herself (pro se) can request issuance of a subpoena. The Committee also advocated additions to paragraph (B) to make clear who is requesting the subpoenaed witness' testimony, as well as the procedure for obtaining and serving the subpoena.

   The Committee suggested adding a new paragraph (D) to provide for return of service forms' submission to the magisterial district court. In addition, the note to Rule 214 was amended to include supplemental information about the new paragraphs (D) and (E) as well as providing other helpful information with regard to subpoenas in civil actions before magisterial district judges.

   Finally, the sentence in the note about magisterial district judges' ability to issue subpoenas in blank was moved to paragraph (A). This change is to emphasize, in the rule itself, this prohibition.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 08-1924. Filed for public inspection October 24, 2008, 9:00 a.m.]


1  Minor Court Rules Committee Recommendation 8-2008.

2  Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Order No. 251, Magisterial Docket No. 1 (October 8, 2008).

3  Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Order No. 438, Supreme Court Rules Docket No. 1.

4  The recommendation was published before adoption at 37 Pa.B. 1306 (March 24, 2007), in the Atlantic Reporter (Second Series Advance Sheets, Vol. 915, March 16, 2007) and on the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee's web site.

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