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Pennsylvania Supreme Court
HARRISBURG – The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced that its entire Sept. 13 oral argument session, which includes hearings on the state’s second legislative redistricting plan and the voter ID law, will be televised live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). The hearings are being held in the court’s Philadelphia City Hall courtroom.
Oral arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Supreme Court’s Philadelphia courtroom, room 456 of City Hall. Strict decorum will be observed. Because of limited seating, observers will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Once the courtroom is full, those not admitted may wait in line to take a seat as those who were seated leave.
The sessions held on the 11th and 12th will be taped for future airing by PCN.
HARRISBURG—A new training video, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, will assist guardians ad litem—attorneys who represent the specific legal needs of abused and neglected children in dependency courts.
The video is another tool to help the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reach its goal of moving abused and neglected children to safe and permanent homes without delay.
“Guardians ad litem who represent children in dependency matters have very specific responsibilities,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer said. “The training is designed to ensure that abused and neglected children, those often least capable of articulating their own interests before the court, are receiving high-quality legal representation. We are confident these efforts will significantly help in our overall goal to ensure that every child grows up in a safe, nurturing and permanent family.”
The specialized training for guardians ad litem meets requirements of the Federal Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act and will allow Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to continue receiving approximately $950,000 annually of critical federal dollars supporting the services to abused/neglected children and their families.
New guardians ad litem will be required to complete the pre-service video training if the county wants to receive future funding from the DPW’s Office of Children and Youth to help pay for guardian ad litem services in dependency cases. The training video was developed by the Supreme Court’s Office of Children and Families in the Courts (OCFC) in conjunction with DPW's Office of Children, Youth and Families, and a Legal Representation Workgroup which included judges, attorneys, and children welfare professionals, co-chaired by Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Kelley Streib and Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Administrative Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy.
The training video follows OCFC’s 2011 efforts to provide specific training to more than 600 attorneys who had been representing children and parents in dependency cases.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has established a new Twitter feed to increase online ease and access to its rulings. The specially designated site will provide instant notification of the online posting of most Supreme Court information, such as orders, new rules, opinions and concurring and dissenting statements written by the justices. Anyone can sign-up to receive alerts from the Court’s Twitter page, which can be accessed at twitter.com/SupremeCtofPA. “Follow Us On Twitter” links also will appear on the state court system’s Web site to take interested parties directly to the page.
“The manner and pace in which the Commonwealth’s citizens expect to receive information from their government is changing rapidly,” said Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, who has spearheaded the move in behalf of the entire Court. “This is a logical extension of an ongoing commitment to enhance the delivery of court information and services in an efficient and cost-effective manner.” All new rulings posted to the Pennsylvania Judiciary Web site will be linked to a Tweet, and available immediately on a follower’s personal home page.
The new service complements and expands the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s online offerings by maximizing the convenience of the Internet through cell phones and other devices. The new service will not be set up for communicating with the Court. Those who have questions or wish to report a problem or concern about the state’s judicial system may continue to do so through the Public Comments section of the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s Web site at www.pacourts.us/Public+Comments/Default.htm