Pennsylvania plans cuts in district courts

    Pennsylvania is looking to cut about 40 of the justices whose courtrooms handle things such as traffic citations and civil suits.

    Last year, the magisterial district courts were trimmed by 11 judges.

    But with personnel costs making up the biggest chunk of the judiciary’s budget, the state’s court administrators want to cut even more of the remaining 535.

    Cumberland County District Judge Charles Clement says as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has eliminated magisterial judges, it has tried to make sure the workload between existing courts is as evenly distributed as possible.

    “Some courts are still way too busy and some need to pick up some more cases to balance out the caseloads in a particular judicial district,” Clement said.

    Fayette County Republican Representative Deb Kula was a district judge until her court was combined with another and she lost a re-election to another incumbent judge.

    She said she’s concerned that justices will be forced out of their positions prematurely if their court is targeted.

    But state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille says the goal is to downsize courts by attrition — keeping vacancies unfilled as judges retire.

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