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From the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts
HARRISBURG—The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania today expanded its online case database to include information regarding landlord-tenant cases and civil cases of less than $12,000 that are filed in the state’s magisterial district courts.
Electronic docket sheets for more than 4.1 million of these cases will be available on the Unified Judicial System’s website at www.pacourts.us by clicking on the “Docket Sheets” button at the bottom of the page.
The online database also contains records for nearly 27 million traffic, non-traffic and criminal cases that have been filed in Pennsylvania’s appellate, Common Pleas (criminal) and magisterial district courts. The records can be searched by court, case category and status, docket number and type, county and participant name, date of birth (if available) and date filed. In 2012 the public accessed these case records more than 53 million times via the Internet, free of charge.
The decision to expand online access to magisterial district civil and landlord-tenant cases is consistent with the Supreme Court’s commitment to provide easy access to court records.
From the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts
HARRISBURG — Military veterans facing incarceration for minor criminal charges would have the option of supervised treatment under a pilot program of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
The Magisterial District Judge Diversion program, aimed at veteran offenders, was initiated in Centre County in November and will be piloted in Monroe and Westmoreland counties starting Jan. 1.
Believed to be the only one of its kind in the country, the diversionary program is being tested in the three diverse counties with the goal of developing blueprints for possible expansion statewide. Guidelines were developed by a committee established by the AOPC.
“This program has been under development for over three years and is another step in the work we have been doing here in the courts of Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Veterans Administration, to assist returning veterans with their struggles to readjust,” said Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery. “What we hope to do here is divert these veterans into treatment before their problems escalate to behaviors that would result in a case getting to the Court of Common Pleas.
“The earlier we intervene, the better for the veteran, the better for their family, the better for their community, and the better for the system.”
The move follows implementation of a similar statewide Veterans Court program in the Common Pleas Courts that also offers supervised treatment as an alternative to incarceration. By introducing earlier intervention at the magisterial district judge level, program planners hope to curb behavior from worsening among veterans with drug and alcohol abuse, anger management and post-traumatic stress disorder issues. In a collaborative arrangement with the state court system, the Veterans Administration provides treatment services.
A veteran charged with summary offenses — such as disorderly conduct, public drunkenness or harassment — could opt for supervised treatment, with the county district attorney’s office approval. The charges would be dismissed at the end of a successful six-month treatment period. If a defendant doesn’t comply with the terms of the program, the charges would be restored.
Pennsylvania has more than one million veterans statewide — including Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille and Justice McCaffery. Justice McCaffery is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the state’s problem-solving courts program, and has been a leading force in establishing Veterans Courts throughout the Commonwealth.
As a reminder, if your client is accepting a tentative plea, ARD, etc. that was offered at the Magisterial District Judge level, both you and your client MUST appear on the scheduled formal arraignment date. This is the date that the plea, ARD, etc. will be taken by the Judge.
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.)
Per an Order of Court dated August 18, 2010, Westmoreland County Rule of Judicial Administration WJ510 is adopted and effective 30 days after publication in The Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Click here to view the order and full text of the rule change.