Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County Judge

Chester County Magisterial District Court Race . . . Analisa Sondergaard to Challenge Incumbent Judge Jeremy Blackburn

Last month, in anticipation of the Primary Election on May 17, I produced a schedule to review the candidates for Tredyffrin Township Supervisor, T/E School Board, Chester County Magisterial District Judge and the Special Election. Each of the candidates has been asked to submit either a resume or a bio and I have linked Community Matters to this information.

The Primary is a week from tomorrow and today’s topic is the Chester County Magisterial District Judge race for District Court 15-4-01. District Court 15-4-01 has jurisdiction over precinct W-1, W-2, W-5, M-2, M-3, M-4 and M-7. Incumbent Judge Jeremy Blackburn will face challenger Analisa Sondergaard for the magisterial district judge position.

Sondergaard is endorsed by the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee.

Last month I sent an email to Judge Blackburn asking for his resume or biographical information and did not receive a response. However, I sent another request this morning and if I receive the information, I will post it.

The District Court 15-4-01 includes my precinct and I thought it would be interesting to have background information on the position and responsibilities of a magisterial district judge. From the Chester County government website, below is a district justice overview.

The magisterial district judges are part of the unified judicial system of the Pennsylvania court system and are governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Court as promulgated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On a local level the nineteen district courts within Chester County are under the supervision and direction of President Judge Paula Francisco Ott. Each magisterial district judge is elected to a six-year term of office and serves within their magisterial district. Magisterial District Judges hold hearings on the following:

  • Summary cases (both traffic and non-traffic related matters).
  • Civil and landlord/tenant cases not exceeding $8,000.
  • Criminal cases. and
  • Preliminary hearings on misdemeanor and felony cases.

Additional duties include:

  • Financial reporting including receipt and disbursement of funds to the county, state, local municipalities and school districts; in order to provide accurate case management and public awareness.
  • Presiding over hearings relative to Protection From Abuse (PFA) matters, issuing search warrants, setting bail, conducting marriages, holding preliminary arraignments both during office hours as well as during scheduled night duty sessions.

In addition, the magisterial district judges are assigned to a rotating schedule of Night Duty. The Pennsylvania Rules of Court require that a magisterial district judge be available at all times after established business hours of the Court of Common Pleas. Therefore, a schedule exists which indicates the on duty magisterial district judge for nights, weekends and holidays.

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