First Judicial District of Pennsylvania

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The First Judicial District is the judicial body governing the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It consists of the Court of Common Pleas, the Municipal Court, and Traffic Court for the jurisdiction of Philadelphia.

Although the title of the district is assigned by the Pennsylvania Unified Court System, the court operates under the county of Philadelphia. All judges serving on the bench are elected to serve their terms by registered voters in Philadelphia, rather than appointed by the executive branch of government. The First Judicial District's respective courts preside over all state and local jurisdiction civil and criminal matters that occur within the county of Philadelphia's borders.

Court of Common Pleas

The first of three courts of the district is the Court of Common Pleas. Led by a President Judge, Common Pleas is further broken down into three divisions: trial, family and orphan's court division.

The trial division holds all criminal proceedings, as well as proceedings for civil matters where more than $10,000 is being challenged. The family division is discharged with resolving domestic relations and juvenile cases. The orphan's court is responsible for processing and resolving disputes of, trusts, wills, and estates. The probation and parole services for Philadelphia are under the jurisdiction of the Common Plea court. The Intake and Interstate Units are located in the Basement of the Criminal Justice Center, while all other units (including the Warrant Unit) are located at 1401 Arch Street.

The current President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas is the Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper, with 90 judges (Trial Division, 67; Family Court Division, 20; and Orphans' Court Division, 3) sharing duties within Common Pleas.

Criminal Dockets would be CP-51-CR-*****-2007. CP denotes the court, in this case, Common Pleas. 51 is the county code, in this case Philadelphia County. CR denotes the type of case, criminal. The * represents the case number and the last 4 digits are the year the case was created.

Municipal Court

All criminal cases in Philadelphia initially go through Philadelphia Municipal Court, which is a 25 judge-strong court. MC maintains jurisdiction over criminal cases where the maximum punishment possible for an offender is less than 5 years imprisonment, as well as having jurisdiction over civil cases where less than $12,000 is disputed. The civil division also handles all landlord-tenant disputes, and certain property tax and code enforcement cases.

Appeals from the Municipal Court remain within the First Judicial District by becoming a matter of the Court of Common Pleas. Philadelphia is one of two countys in Pennsylvania that has a Municipal Court(the other being Pittsburgh). Criminal Dockets would be MC-51-CR-*****-2007

Summary Offenses are heard in Community Court, The usual punishment from a summary offense is a small fine and/or Community Service. The Summary Dockets would be MC-51-SU-*****-2007

Traffic Court

The Traffic Court is responsible for adjudicating all moving violations with a motor vehicle within Philadelphia county. It has a seven-judge panel, led by a President Judge, as well as an Administrative Judge. The court itself is a summary court, restricted to dealing with matters of violations; it cannot adjudicate misdemeanors or felonies. Recently, Philadelphia Traffic Court started a new program known as Date Certain. This program allows a police officer at the time of citation issuance to give a hearing date to the defendant. The defendant must still respond to Traffic Court within 10 days or face enforcement actions including the issuance of a warrant for their arrest.

See also

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