COUNTY—Amendments to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 42, concerning Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, signed into law at the end of October, will establish a second Wayne County Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, effective in 2022.
As stipulated by said law, Act 49 of 2017, this second judge will be elected in the municipal elections held in November, 2021.
Other judicial districts receiving an increase in the number of common pleas judges include the Seventh (Bucks County), Ninth (Cumberland County), Twenty-seventh (Washington County), Thirty-second (Delaware County), Thirty-eight (Montgomery County), and Forty-third (Monroe County).
According to Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Adams, such increases accompany elevations in case load and district population.
According to statistics provided from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, last year, the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas saw 417 new criminal cases filed and processed 470 such cases out of 589 total available criminal cases.
Additionally, the court processed 744 civil trials out of a total 1210 available, a handful of cases in orphan's court and hundreds of cases in family court spread across protection from abuse (PFA) orders, child support, paternity, custody, divorce, juvenile detention and juvenile dependency cases.
Comparing ten-year averages between Wayne County and the collection of the other sixth-class Pennsylvania counties, Wayne has consistently received fewer new criminal cases filed each year.
In similar comparisons, Wayne County has consistently received an above-average amount of civil docketed cases and new PFA cases filed.
Most other family court new case averages for Wayne County were below or roughly even with the compilation of the other sixth-class counties.
Working to accommodate the presence of the second judge and facilitate a more modern court room, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners is looking to renovate the county courthouse fourth floor.
According to Board Chairman Brian Smith, renovations include creation of additional chambers for the second Judge, relocating some administrative staff and upgrading the courtroom itself.
Smith explained they're “... looking simply to bring [the courtroom] into modern times … ,” with the addition of enhanced technological capabilities including a drop-down viewing screen.
The chairman explained renovating to include secondary judge's chambers will come in handy sooner than later as sitting President Judge Raymond Hamill will maintain a presence in the courtroom to facilitate the transition for incoming President Judge-elect Janine Edwards, set to take the bench in January.
“There's a timeframe here where Janine, because she was a DA (District Attorney), is gonna have some conflicts of interest with people that she's convicted.”
Because Edwards will not be able to try those she's convicted as DA, Smith stated, “... it's necessary for us to keep the second judge on for a while to get through that period,” explained Smith.
The commissioners opened bids for the renovations at their regular business meeting Thursday morning.
According to Chief Clerk Vicky Botjer, three requests were picked up but only Grimm Construction returned a bid, totaling $84,291.
It was marked as received and sent along for review by the county engineer.