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234 Pa. Code Rule 601. Presence of Judge.

Rule 601. Presence of Judge.

 (A)  A judge shall be present at all stages of the trial.

 (B)  Any judge may preside at a pretrial conference, during the hearing and disposition of a pretrial application, or during the selection of a jury.

 (C)  The judge who is present from the time the trial commences shall be considered the trial judge and shall be present, except in extraordinary circumstances, until a verdict is recorded or the jury is discharged.


   Concerning the judge’s presence during voir dire and the jury selection process, see Rule 631(A).

   The requirement that the same judge be present from the time the trial begins accords with the decision in Commonwealth v. Thompson, 195 A. 115 (Pa. 1937). ‘‘The substitution of judges during a case should be carefully guarded and never permitted except under most extraordinary circumstances, and then only when no prejudice can result to the parties. Substitution must be a matter of necessity, where the due administration of justice makes it imperative and without prejudice.’’ Id. at 28-29. See also Commonwealth v. Zeger, 186 A.2d 922 (Pa. Super. 1962).

   The Pennsylvania rule has been that another judge may receive the verdict because it is considered to be a clerical rather than a judicial function. Commonwealth v. Thompson, 195 A. 115, 117 (Pa. 1937); Culver v. Lehigh Transit Co., 186 A. 70 (Pa. 1936). However, since the judge having knowledge of the trial proceedings may be required to take such action as molding the verdict, directing reconsideration of a defective or incomplete verdict, or giving additional or correctional instructions, paragraph (C) requires that the same judge preside even at the receipt of the verdict, except in extraordinary cases such as those set forth in Commonwealth v. Thompson, 195 A. 115, 117 (Pa. 1937).

   Official Note

   Rule 1105 adopted January 24, 1965, effective August 1, 1968; amended February 27, 1995, effective July 1, 1995; renumbered Rule 601 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Final Report explaining the February 27, 1995 amendments published with the Court’s Order at 25 Pa.B. 948 (March 18, 1995).

   Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Court’s Order at 30 Pa.B. 1477 (March 18, 2000).

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