Reestablishment of Magisterial Districts

Decennial reestablishment of magisterial districts is mandated by the Pennsylvania Constitution (Articles V and VII) and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 1503, which requires that the PA Supreme Court reestablish the numbers and boundaries of the magisterial districts the year after the census figures are certified by the Census Bureau. That mandated process for the 2021-2022 Reestablishment is currently underway.

For the 2001-2002 Reestablishment, the goal was to establish caseload equity among the magisterial districts within a county and also between counties of the same class. We started with 550 Magisterial Districts across the state and ended at 546 after the process. Eleven (11) more were eliminated in subsequent years based on mid-decennial plans submitted by some counties leaving 535 Districts.

For the 2011-2012 Reestablishment, the guiding principle underlying the process was the desire of then-Chief Justice Castille to reduce the number of Magisterial District Judges statewide by ten percent. At the end of the process, the number of Magisterial Districts was reduced to 515 Magisterial Districts. Five (5) more were eliminated in subsequent years based on mid-decennial plans submitted by a few counties, leaving 511 Districts.

For the 2021-2022 Reestablsihment process, the PA Supreme Court has approved a process in which there is no goal to eliminate any districts and no presumption that districts should be eliminated. Instead, the guiding principle for reestablishment is for each president judge for each county / judicial district to determine if they have the proper number of MDJs needed to handle the caseload in their judicial district. As of January 2022 before any plans are submitted to the PA Supreme Court for this Reestablishment process, there are only 510 Magisterial Districts in the Commonwealth.

The Magisterial District Courts are the local courts throughout Pennsylvania’s communities that enable all residents an equal access to local justice. Reestablishment of Magisterial Districts is therefore an important process that affects every community. Each district court that is eliminated or realigned affects every local municipality, police department, school district, business, and every resident. It’s not all about statistics, population, caseload and workload. Its about how each person and each community is served. How far is it to get to your local court? How accessible is your local court? Is there public transportation? Will police be off the streets too long for court appearances? Will this cost municipalities more in overtime and possibly increase your taxes? Will victims and witnesses be inconvienced more by having to travel farther to court? How will the proposed plan affect your access to the magisterial district court in your community? 

Other issues involving magisterial district courts can also affect your local access to justice. Some counties in Pennsylvania have consolidated seperate district courts into the same building facility. Such consolidated courts can limit judges’ availablility to use shared courtrooms and also may require stakeholders to travel further for proceedings. Consolidated courts experienced health safety challenges during the COVID pandemic. Any such consolidation must be approved by the PA Supreme Court. Another trend is for counties to use Central Courts. There are many types and systems of Central Courts but they all do one thing – they transfer certain cases or classes of cases to a central location for processing and hearings often at a great inconvenience to victims, witnesses and police. Currently, 30 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania have some form of a Central Court and more are in the process of creating one. The PA Supreme Court currently does not have to approve the creation or use of Central Courts even though some have rasied constitutional issues with this practice. Central Courts are often considered in the Reestablishment process discussion.

We welcome the citizens to become educated and get involved in this Reestablishment process. Each county must advertise their proposed plan for the Reestablishment of Magisterial Districts for 30 days and solicit public comment before submitting them to AOPC and the PA Supreme Court by 2/28/2022 for approval or denial. The SCJAP will place a link to each county’s plan on this page as they become available. We welcome you to contact your county’s MDJs, president judge, and court administration. We also suggest submitting your written comments or objections on any plan to AOPC and the PA Supreme Court in addition to the county.

Counties Petitioning to Eliminate Districts / Courts and Reestablish / Realign

  • Allegheny (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court)
  • Clarion (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court) (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Dauphin (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court) (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Delaware (Proposing to Eliminate 4 Districts / Courts)
    • **Update – on 3/1/2022, Delaware County revised their plan after examining some public comment and is submitting a revised plan still proposing the elimination of 4 Districts / Courts – Revised Delaware Plan (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Franklin and Fulton (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court)
    • **Update – on 3/1/2022, Franklin and Fulton County received an extension while they examine some of the public comment received and suggestions made by their MDJs – Franklin/Fulton Extension Letter
    • **Update – on 4/1/2022, Franklin and Fulton County posted a Revised Franklin/Fulton Reestablishment Plan for public comment that still proposes the elimination of 1 District / Court.
  • Lehigh (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court and Add 1 District / Court) (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • McKean (Proposing to Eliminate 1 District / Court) (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Montgomery (Proposing to Eliminate 2 Districts / Courts)
    • **Update – on 2/25/2022, Montgomery changed their original plan and is now only petitioning to eliminate 1 District / Court – Revised Montgomery Plan
  • Washington (Proposing to Eliminate 2 Districts / Courts)

Counties Petitioning to Reestablish / Realign Without Eliminating any Districts / Courts

  • Adams (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Armstrong (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Beaver (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Bedford (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Berks (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Blair (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Bradford (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Bucks
  • Butler (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Cambria (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Cameron and Elk (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Carbon (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Centre (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Chester (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Clearfield (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Clinton (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Columbia and Montour (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Crawford (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Cumberland (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Erie (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Fayette (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Forest and Warren (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Greene (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Huntingdon (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Indiana (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Jefferson (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Lackawanna (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Lancaster (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Lawrence (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Lebanon (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Luzerne (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Lycoming (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Mercer (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Mifflin (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Monroe (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Northampton (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Northumberland (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Perry and Juniata (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Pike (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Potter (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Schuylkill (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Snyder and Union (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Somerset (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Susquehanna (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Tioga (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Venango (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Wayne (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • Westmoreland (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court – visit below AOPC link to review)
  • Wyoming and Sullivan (plan reviewed by AOPC and sent to the Court / SCOPA Order issued – visit below AOPC link)
  • York

To see all Reestablishment / Realignment Orders approved by the PA Supreme Court dating back to 2000, and all above 2022 proposals after review by AOPC and submitted to the Supreme Court, visit https://www.pacourts.us/courts/minor-courts/realignment-orders