Proposed 2021-22 Plan for Re-Establishing Magisterial Districts

Courts are required to reestablish magisterial districts every ten years pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. Section 1503. In July of 2020, President Judge Rita Donovan Hathaway submitted an anticipatory Petition to Redistrict Magisterial District Courts in the Tenth Judicial District. This was done in an effort to avoid having potential candidates for the office of magisterial district judge spend money campaigning for an office that might be a good candidate for elimination due to the low caseload and workload in the district. Our Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the petition in part and denied the petition in part, eliminating District Court 10-3-11 (formerly Eckels), and maintaining District Court 10-2-03 (Kistler). These two courts were chosen because they were the two courts in Westmoreland County with the lowest number of case filings. In 2020, the time of the original petition, District Court 10-2-03 (Kistler) had a caseload that was 45% lower than the county average. Recent statistics show that this court’s caseload is 49% lower than the county average. In 2020, 10-2-03 was the lowest in workload. At present, this court is the second lowest in workload. 

The committee understands that based on numbers alone, 10-2-03 would appear to be a good candidate for closure. However, the committee agreed that deference to our Supreme Court’s recent analysis should prevail, and that other factors also should be considered, including access to justice and the public’s position regarding closure of the court. These factors must prevail even where a significant savings of taxpayer money and a statistical analysis would appear, at first glance, to make sense. The committee is sensitive to balancing all interests and consciously agreed that recasting the prior request, with essentially similar statistics to support such a request, would be inappropriate. This is explained in further detail within this document.

President Judge Hathaway, complying with her statutory duty, has now appointed a committee to study the magisterial district court alignment in Westmoreland County and to make recommendations with the benefit of official census data and other detailed information. In addition to President Judge Hathaway, the following served on the committee: Magisterial District Judges Jason Buczak, Chris Flanigan, Joseph DeMarchis, Charles Moore, Charles Conway, Rebecca Calisti Tyburski, District Court Administrator Amy DeMatt and Special Courts Administrator Chris Haidze. This document is the recommendation of that Committee.

A key part of the reestablishment process is the solicitation of public comment.  In order to facilitate that process, this document is being distributed to the following:

Westmoreland County Board of Judges
Westmoreland County Board of County Commissioners
Westmoreland County Magisterial District Judges' Offices 
Westmoreland County District Attorney
Westmoreland County Public Defender
Westmoreland County Court Administrator 
Municipal Mayors
Presidents of Municipal Councils
Board of Township Supervisors
State and Local Police
The News Media 
Westmoreland Bar Association
Public Libraries

Copies of the Plan will be available at Public Libraries, Magisterial District Judge Offices, and at the Court Administrator’s Office in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
View Plan Document

Public Comment

The Public is invited to comment on this Proposal in writing by February 10, 2022.  Comments should be addressed to:

Court Administrator
2 North Main Street
Greensburg, Pa. 15601

OR by fax to the Court Administrator at (724)830-3680.

Or by e-mail to [email protected]