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Understanding the Pennsylvania Court System

Much of the information below is digested from
and from

Many of the general forms are available from

“Minor” or Special Courts: Magisterial districts are established within a judicial district under the legislative authority of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, Chapter 15, Subchapter A. Information may also be found at

District judges decide small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, traffic cases and minor criminal matters. There are 546 magisterial district judges based in community courts throughout the Commonwealth. These judges are not required to be lawyers, but they must undergo legal training and attend continuing legal education programs.

Magisterial District Judges in Lycoming County
(elected for a six year term, part of the county government)

District Court 29-1-01
James G Carn
605 West Fourth Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570) 322-6169
District Court 29-1-02
Allen P. Page III
48 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570) 327-2275
District Court 29-3-01
Jerry C. Lepley
216 Market Street
Jersey Shore, PA 17740
(570) 398-4880
District Court 29-2-02
Gary Whiteman
542 County Farm Road
Suite 103
Montoursville, PA 17754
(570) 326-1714
District Court 29-3-03
Jon Kemp
2134 Route 405 Hwy
Muncy, PA 17756
(570) 546-7480
District Court 29-03-04
James H. Sortman
1965 Lycoming Creek Road
Room 101
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570) 323-9982

Court of Common Pleas (Trial Court, 29th District)

President Judge (elected by peers to serve a five year term):
Nancy L. Butts
Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County
Lycoming County Courthouse
48 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701

Judges: (elected for a ten year term)
Dudley N. Anderson, Richard A. Gray, Marc F. Lovecchio and Joy Reynolds McCoy are each Judges for the
Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County
Lycoming County Courthouse
48 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701

State Courts

Commonwealth Court

The Commonwealth Court is one of Pennsylvania's two statewide intermediate appellate courts. Superior Court is the other one. This court, which was established in 1968, is unlike any other state court in the nation. Its jurisdiction generally is limited to legal matters involving state and local government and regulatory agencies. Litigation typically focuses on such subjects as banking, insurance and utility regulation and laws affecting taxation, land use, elections, labor practices and workers compensation. Commonwealth Court also acts as a court of original jurisdiction, or a trial court, when lawsuits are filed by or against the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Court is made up of nine judges who pokies online nz serve 10-year terms. The president judge is chosen by his or her colleagues for a five-year term. The court generally decides cases in three-judge panels and sits in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

The authority of the Commonwealth Court is derived from section 4 of Article V of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

President Judge - Commonwealth Court (elected by her peers to serve a five year term):
Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter

Judges: (elected for a ten year term)
Bernard L. McGinley
Doris A. Smith-Ribner
Dan Pellegrini
Ren¨¦e Cohn Jubelirer
Robert Simpson, Jr.
Mary Hannah Leavitt
Johnny J. Butler

Commonwealth Court Senior Judges:
Rochelle S. Friedman
James R. Kelley
im Flaherty
Joseph F. McCloskey
Barry F. Feudale
Keith B. Quigley

Superior Court:

The Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania's two statewide intermediate appellate courts. The Commonwealth Court is the other. Superior Court, which was established in 1895, reviews most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the Courts of Common Pleas in the Commonwealth's 67 counties. The Superior Court consists of 15 judges who serve 10-year terms. The president judge of Superior Court is elected to a five-year term by his or her colleagues.

A huge volume of appeals flows to Superior Court from the trial courts. Generally, appeals are heard by panels of three judges sitting in Philadelphia, Harrisburg or Pittsburgh. The court often is the final arbiter of legal disputes. Although the Supreme Court may grant a petition for review of a Superior Court decision, most such petitions are denied and the ruling of the Superior Court stands.

The power of Superior derives from section 3 of Article V of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

President Judge - Superior Court (elected by her peers for a five year term)
Kate Ford Elliott

Judges (elected for a ten year term)
Correale F. Stevens
John L. Musmanno
Joan Orie Melvin
Maureen Lally-Green
Richard B. Klein
John T. Bender
Mary Jane Bowes
Susan Peikes Gantman
Jack A. Panella
Christine L. Donohue
Jacqueline O. Shogan
Cheryl Lynn Allen
Robert A. Freedberg
John M. Cleland

Senior Judges - Superior Court:
John T.J. Kelly, Jr.
Zoran Popovich
Stephen J. McEwen, Jr.
Robert E. Colville
James J. Fitzgerald, III

Supreme Court

The power of Supreme Court derives from section 2 of Article V of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and Title 42, Chapter 5, Subchapter A of the Pennsylvania Statutes. The Court sits in Philadelphia.

The Supreme Court is able to take control of any case pending in the lower courts when the Court sees the need to address an issue of “immediate public importance.” This power, known as “extraordinary jurisdiction,” is used rarely, on average about three times per annual session.

Examples of extraordinary jurisdiction include prison overcrowding, public employee strikes, election disputes, grand jury investigations and the powers of the Legislature.

Justices serve a life term, or until the member voluntarily retires.

Ronald D. Castille. Chief Justice of Pennsylvania (began position 2008, elevated from Associate Justice 1994-2007)

Associate Justices:
Thomas G. Saylor (began service 1998)
J. Michael Eakin (began service 2003)
Max Baer (began service 2004)
Debra Todd (began service 2008)
Seamus P. McCaffery (began service 2008)

Federal Courts in Pennsylvania

District Courts (trial-level Federal court)
Eastern: locations in Philadelphia and Allentown
Eastern Bankruptcy
Middle: locations in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg and Williamsport
Middle Bankruptcy
Western: locations in Erie, Pittsburgh and Johnstown
Western Bankruptcy

Circuit Court (appellate level Federal court)
Third: located in Philadelphia

Anthony J. Scirica, Chief Judge, Philadelphia

Dorothy J. Sloviter. Philadelphia
Theodore A. McKee, Philadelphia
Marjorie O. Rendell, Philadelphia
D. Brooks Smith, Duncansville
D. Michael Fisher, Pittsburgh
Thomas M. Hardiman, Pittsburgh

Maryanne Trump Barry, Newark, NJ
Julio M. Fuentes, Newark, NJ
Michael A. Chigares, Newark, NJ
Thomas Ambro, Wilmington, DE
Kent A. Jordan, Wilmington, DE

Senior Judges:
Joseph. F. Weis, Jr., Pittsburgh
Robert L. Nygaard, Erie
Franklin S. Van Antwerpen, Easton

Ruggiero J. Aldisert, Santa Barbara, CA
Leonard I. Garth, Newark, NJ
Morton I. Greenberg, Trenton, NJ
Robert E. Cower, Trenton, NJ
Walter K. Stapleton, Wilmington, DE
Jane H. Roth, Wilmington, DE

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