westbar's blog

Notice on Civil/Orphans' Court Motions

Judge McCormick, Jr. will not be hearing civil or orphans’ court motions on the following Fridays: April 13, 2012, April 20, 2012, May 25, 2012, June 1, 2012, August 24, 2012, and September 14, 2012. Judge McCormick, Jr. will hear civil and orphans’ court motions on the following Thursdays: April 12, 2012, May 31, 2012, and September 13, 2012, at 9:00 am. Please mark your calendars accordingly.

Judge Caruso, Judge Marsili, and Judge McCormick, Jr., will not be hearing civil or orphans’ court motions on Friday, April 20, 2012.

All PA Criminal Courts Now Accepting Credit, Debit Card Payments Online

All PA Criminal Courts Now Accepting Credit, Debit Card Payments Online

District Judge Computer System Upgrade Complete; Internet Payments, Increased Access, among New Features Improving Court Efficiency

HARRISBURG –Traffic tickets and other court-ordered fines, costs and restitution issued anywhere in Pennsylvania can now be paid online with a credit or debit card at one convenient location on the state judiciary’s Web portal site .

The courts online payment feature, known as “e-Pay,” was expanded to all magisterial district courts with the installation of a new system between April 2010 and December 2011, creating, for the first time, a one-stop shop for defendants to make multiple magisterial district court and Common Pleas payments on the Internet with a single transaction fee of only $2.75.

“By providing an easy way to settle court-ordered costs, defendants can avoid facing arrests, contempt of court proceedings, driver’s license suspensions and/or additional collection agencies fees,” said Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille.

The state’s Common Pleas courts began offering e-Pay in 2010, and with its expansion to all magisterial district courts by the end of 2011, it is increasingly becoming the method of choice for defendants paying court-ordered fines, fees, costs and restitution. Daily collections through the online payment option have climbed to $140,000, and Chief Justice Castille said it appears to be contributing to higher court collection levels that totaled nearly $470 million in 2011. (See recently released court disbursement reports.)

Legal and Health Care Professionals Invited to Event

The Saint Thomas More and Saint Luke Societies of the Diocese of Greensburg invite legal and health care professionals to attend "A Lenten Evening of Recollection" on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at 6:30 PM in the Bishop Connare Center, Parlor Room.

The featured speaker is the Very Reverend Lawrence A. DiNardo, VE, JCL, Vicar for Canonical Services, Director, Department of Canon and Civil Law Services, Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The theme for the evening will be "The New Evangelization: Really New or Rediscovered?"

Please RSVP to (724) 552-2644.

To receive notices of future events directly, provide your e-mail address to: For notice of St. Luke Society events, send an e-mail to jeros021@comcast.net For notice of St. Thomas More Society events, send an e-mail to mpellegrino@dioceseofgreensburg.org

Attention Court-Appointed Attorneys

Pursuant to the court appointed attorney guidelines, court appointed counsel is asked to submit Fee Petitions on a timely basis. For criminal cases, fee petitions should be submitted at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing and quarterly thereafter for each case, excluding capital cases, which shall be submitted monthly.  For family cases, petitions should be submitted after each review hearing and/or case disposition. If you need a copy of the current guidelines, please contact the Court Administrator’s Office, Danielle Frye, at 724.830.3393.

Attention: All Attorneys Practicing Criminal Law

Your entry of appearance for criminal court cases in which you are representing the defendant will only be entered pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Court Rule 120,  in one of two ways:

  1. By filing an Entry of Appearance with the Clerk of Courts, OR
  2. By entry of an Order of Court Appointing an individual counsel.

Please note that Entry of Appearance forms are available in the Court Administrator’s office Room M8 or online at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us. This is an important issue as no notice will be provided unless the attorney of record has entered his or her apperance in one of the above ways.

Court Office Seeks Input on Proposed Changes to Judiciary’s Policy Governing Electronic Case Records

HARRISBURG, February 6, 2011–The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) is seeking input regarding proposed amendments to the policy governing electronic records stored in the Judiciary’s case management systems and made available online at no charge.
 
“The proposed amendments expand the Supreme Court’s long-standing tradition of providing online access to court records while recognizing appropriate restrictions on personal data that could jeopardize an individual’s privacy and safety or subject them to identity theft,” said Court Administrator of Pennsylvania Zygmont A. Pines.
 
The most significant proposed change is to begin posting magisterial district court civil and landlord/tenant cases on the Judiciary’s web site with the full addresses of the litigants to help distinguish them from individuals with similar names in densely populated areas.  Dates of birth and other personal identifiers are not included in these case filings.

All other cases will continue being posted online with the litigant’s partial address (city, state and zip code) because those cases have date of birth information which can help distinguish individuals with similar names.
 
The AOPC is also recommending that the Judiciary’s Electronic Case Record Public Access Policy exclude access to images of documents filed and stored in the state court case management systems.  Another amendment will allow the AOPC to release additional case data if the request meets approved academic, government and professional standards, and the information released does not identify specific individuals or present a risk to personal security and privacy.
 
Beginning with a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, February 4, the AOPC is seeking comment regarding the proposed policy amendments for a 30-day period that ends March 5. The amendments can be viewed at the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s Public Access web page http://www.pacourts.us/T/AOPC/PublicAccessPolicy.htm where visitors can also email comments regarding the proposal.
 
“Last year the public accessed more than 39 million magisterial district, Common Pleas and appellate court case records online at no charge,” Pines said.  “In addition, the AOPC provided 397 customized bulk court reports to government entities for free.”
 
The public can search the individual case docket sheets Judiciary’s web site at http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/ by court, case category and status, docket number and type, county and participant name and date of birth, and date filed.

Notice on Civil/Orphans' Court Motions

Judge Caruso will not be hearing civil or orphans’ court motions on Friday, February 3, 2012, or Friday, February 24, 2012. Counsel should make arrangements to present motions on prior or subsequent Fridays.

Westmoreland County Coroner begins to post notices on Twitter, Facebook

From the December 10, 2011, Tribune-Review

By Paul Peirce
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, December 10, 2011

Aficionados of the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office don't approach Lady Gaga's 16.7 million followers or even pop star Justin Bieber's 15.2 million devotees, but Coroner Ken Bacha's office issues instant notification of public rulings via Twitter and Facebook.

In mid-October, the Westmoreland row office became the first in the state to offer official public releases via popular social media. Other coroners are watching the foray with interest.

Such information had been available through email on the county's e-Alert system. Bacha said the office was looking for a way to more quickly disseminate public information.

"It was pretty much changed for convenience ... to get the information out there more quickly," Chief Deputy Coroner Paul Cycak said.

"Previously, if there was a case we were called to, let's say that occurred Friday night, the previous system was set up only to provide information during normal county business hours -- that's 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. So, the media had to wait until Monday morning to get the information,"he said.

"This way, we at least have a system in place to provide the media with that public information during other hours," Cycak said.

Deputy Coroner Josh Zappone handles the office's Twitter feeds and Facebook page. In its first 59 days, Zappone said, the office's Twitter feed had increased from "just a couple" to 47 followers.

"It's been going pretty good so far, I think. The number of followers keeps incrementally increasing," Zappone said.

Zappone said the social media feeds are a way to provide information to reporters, who may be out in the field and in need of the information.

"We wanted to do it in a manner as quickly and efficiently as possible. Also, it is public information, so we decided to make it available to members of the general public who want it ... there's some police officers, people from other agencies and members of the public who follow the office on Twitter or the Facebook page," Zappone said.

Most of the information involves the cause and manner of death, the time of death and the agencies investigating. The information is still being released via email.

All feeds and postings must first be approved by Bacha or Cycak before release. Some information is withheld at the request of investigators.

Notice on Civil/Orphans' Court Motions

Judge McCormick, Jr. will not be hearing civil or orphans’ court motions on the following Fridays: January 27, 2012 and February 3, 2012. Counsel should make arrangements to present motions on a prior or subsequent Friday.

Law Books Available

The Hon. James R. Kelley is retiring at the end of this month and has a number of law books, including some complete sets, available. All are in excellent condition. Anyone interested in obtaining them should contact Judge Kelley at 724-830-2000.

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