No change recommended for Greencastle-Antrim court office
Magisterial District 39-3-05, serving Greencastle and Antrim Township, has not been targeted for change following a re-establishment assessment of the Franklin and Fulton county districts. The report on the 39th district was released Feb. 29 by Mark Singer, District Court Administrator. The local office, served by Judge Duane K. Cunningham, was free of recommendations for adding or removing territory.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court wants to reduce the commonwealth's district courts by 10 percent. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts prefers to eliminate districts through attrition. As a judge retired or did not run for re-election, that district could be discontinued. Art Heinz, AOPC communication coordinator, said in the past year, 10 offices from the state total of 550 closed for that reason. It was optimal to reduce the number by another 40.
The AOPC notified each district of its requirement, after each United States decennial census, to evaluate whether any judicial districts could be eliminated, using data from 2005 to 2010 on case filings for criminal, traffic, non-traffic, private complaints, civil, landlord-tenant and miscellaneous docket filings.
None of the seven Franklin County districts were slated for elimination, but several could be realigned, according to the report. Keeping the number steady was warranted due to a shift from 5th to 4th class status in January as a result of population growth.
An increased caseload in 39-3-05 was anticipated because of the Norfolk Southern intermodal project, which would bring more residents to the area. Accompanying business growth was also expected. Mountain View Reclamation and Waste Management were seen as a source of more cases, as law enforcement conducted patrols on vehicles entering and exiting the landfill. However, the recommendation was that the traffic-related filings be sent to 39-3-06 in Mercersburg.
The report also recommended one practice with on-call judges be revamped. Currently, cases are filed in the office of the judge who is called after hours. The practice would change to docket cases in the municipality in which the event occurred. The intent was to give more accurate numbers to the caseloads in each district.
No changes were also suggested for district office 39-2-01, Judge Glenn K. Manes, Chambersburg; 39-3-02, Judge Larry G. Pentz, Waynesboro and Washington Township; and 39-3-07, Judge Kelly Rock, Guilford and Quincy townships and Mont Alto.
Some shifting was seen appropriate for the others. In 39-3-03, Judge David L. Plum, Hamilton, Fannett, Metal, Lurgan and Letterkenny townships, the report suggested adding Orrstown and the west end of Shippensburg, and taking out Metal except for the turnpike cases. Metal would be added to 39-3-06, Judge Jody C. Eyer, serving Mercersburg and the townships of Peters, Montgomery, St. Thomas and Warren. Orrstown and west Shippensburg would be taken away from 39-3-04, Judge Todd R. Williams, also serving Greene and Southhampton townships.
No changes would occur in Fulton County, with citizens served by Devin Horne, 39-4-01 in Fort Littleton; Wendy R. Mellott, 39-4-02 in McConnellsburg; and Tamela Mellott Bard, 39-4-03 in Needmore.
Two factors played into the report. Offices were analyzed by caseload and workload. The former was the actual number of cases that came into a juris office, said Heinz. The workload was a weighted number.
“For instance, traffic tickets take less time to resolve than criminal matters,” he said. “There was a recognition that not all cases need the same time or resources to find a resolution. This achieves a balance and provides a complete picture.”
The average caseload of a district in Franklin County over the six year span was 3,803. Cunningham's was 3,362. The average in Fulton County was 2,576. The average Franklin County workload was 36,560. Cunningham's was 30,280. Fulton's was 11,827.
The 39th Judicial District will submit its recommendations to the AOPC by March 30. The public has 30 days to comment before that date by contacting Singer at 157 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg, or by email at email@example.com
Once the information has been reviewed, if the 10 percent reduction is not achieved, the court will determine the next step. The goal is to issue orders by fall, said Heinz.