Magisterial District Judges
Mount Joy, PA 17552-2002
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Willow Street, PA 17584-9529
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Columbia, PA 17512-1156
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17603
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17601-5993
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Stevens, PA 17578-9796
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
New Holland, PA 17557-1521
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17602-3011
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Millersville, PA 17551-9753
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17601-4606
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Elizabethtown, PA 17022-0511
8;30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Quarryville, PA 17566-1248
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17602
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
Lancaster, PA 17603-3789
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Ephrata, PA 17522-0242
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lancaster, PA 17603-4632
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
P.O. Box 618
Intercourse, PA 17534-0618
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lititz, PA 17543-8907
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
District Court 02-1-01
Lancaster, PA 17603-5508
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Judges' Lodgings, Lancaster
The Judges' Lodgings, formerly a town house and now a museum, is located between Church Street and Castle Hill, Lancaster, Lancashire, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. The building is the oldest existing town house in Lancaster, and was also the first house in Lancaster to have shutters. It was used by judges when they attended the sessions of the Assize Court.
Use of the house by visiting judges ended in 1975, and the building was converted into a museum; featuring a museum of childhood, and the Gillow furniture collection. The future of the museum was put in doubt, following an announcement from Lancashire County Council that it would be closed permanently. Closure was initially proposed to take place on 31 March 2016, but it was deferred. In April 2018 it was announced the museum would open to the general public between Easter and the end of October 2019.
There is evidence that older buildings have stood on the site. The remains of a Romankiln were discovered in the garden. It is likely that the first house on the site was built in wood, and later replaced in stone. It is possible the house built in 1314 for Robert de Holland was on this site. The oldest fabric in the present house dates from the 1550s: In the entrance hall is a massive stone fireplace of that date.
The building was constructed around 1625, re-using structural timbers and possibly on an earlier foundation. By 1639 the house was owned by Thomas Covell, Mayor of Lancaster, and Keeper of Lancaster Castle. That building has been called the "Old Hall" of Lancaster. For many years the house was used as lodgings by visiting judges attending the Assizes court at Lancaster Castle. There is evidence that the house was used for this purpose as early as 1635.
Lancaster was severely damaged by Royalist forces in 1643 during the Civil War. Around 1662 the property was bought by Thomas Cole, Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire. The building was extended and altered in 1675, and the new building was called "New Hall".
The house was sold in 1826 to the county magistrates. Following this an extension was added to the side of the building, and other alterations were made. Use of the house by visiting judges ended in 1975, and the building was converted into a museum. This includes a Museum of Childhood, and a collection of furniture made by the Lancaster firm of Gillows (later Waring & Gillow).
Closure in 2016
Due to cuts to local council budgets by the Cameron government, in November 2015 Lancashire County Council proposed withdrawing all funding for five museums across Lancashire: the Judges' Lodgings, Fleetwood Museum, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, Museum of Lancashire and Queen Street Mill. The leader of the council spoke of "the financial challenges facing the county council as we deal with relentless cuts to central government funding combined with rising demand for our services". Despite letters of protest and an on-line petition the council confirmed their decision at a meeting in February 2016 and the Judges' Lodgings was told it would close its doors for the last time on 31 March. A group of concerned citizens formed a "Friends of the Judges' Lodgings" in the hopes of finding a way to allow the museum to continue. In March 2016 the closure of all five museums was deferred until September 2016.
The museum closed on 30 September 2016, along with the other four Lancashire museums mentioned above, except for pre-booked school groups. As of 3 June 2017[update] Lancashire County Council's website states that "Negotiations are underway with a potential new operator and it is hoped they will be finalised in Autumn 2017." In April 2018 Lancashire County Council announced it would be reopening the museum, alongside Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Textile Mills, to the general public for three days a week over the summers of 2018 and 2019 while talks continued about their futures.
2019 and 2020
In March 2019 Lancaster Judges' Lodgings reopened staffed by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers.
The first season after the reopening saw many visitors both coming from out of town and local residents keen to see the museum open once again. There was a busy programme of events put on by the museum and the Friends which ensured that Judges' Lodgings had a very successful reopening season.
However, many of the events planned for 2020 were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the opening was delayed until the end of August 2020. It was announced that the Judges' Lodgings would re-open on 28 August 2020, for pre-booked visits only.
The building is constructed in sandstonerubble with ashlar dressings and slate roofs. It has a U-shaped plan. The entrance front faces west, is symmetrical, has three storeys and a basement, and is in seven bays. The architectural style is Georgian. The doorcase has Tuscan columns supporting blocks carved with lions' heads, a triglyphfrieze containing flowers, and an open segmental pediment containing a painting of the arms of Lancashire.
Gillows Furniture collection
The building houses an extensive collection of Gillows furniture, which is partly displayed in the context of a museum of the firm and partly in rooms furnished in period style.
Robert Gillow (1704-1772) started making furniture around 1727, predating Thomas Chippendale by twenty years. He made furniture for the upper middle classes and landed gentry. Robert was succeeded by his sons: Richard managed the Lancaster production, and Robert set up a London operation. As a provincial he was unique in having a London showroom. It was a family business until 1813, when the Gillow family sold the firm to three partners, Redmayne, Whiteside, and Ferguson, who retained the name Gillow & Co. Gillows furniture is referred to by Jane Austen, Thackeray and the first Lord Lytton, and in one of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas.
Much of the furniture in the Judges' Lodging was commissioned by specific clients. The firm's Estimate Sketch Books are preserved in Westminster City Archives. They constructed furniture to their own design and nurtured their own designers but equally they would construct furniture for designers without production capacity. They did work for Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite.
In the 1760s Gillows began producing billiard tables. They have even been credited with inventing the billiard table, although billiards had been played for a long time before the 1760s. They are also credited with patenting the "telescopic" (extendable) dining table and building the first Davenport desk.
By 1900, the firm was producing a complete interior decoration service but this strained the company's finances - and it was taken over by Waring of Liverpool in 1903. Waring & Gillow continued but never achieved the same reputation for quality. They folded in 1962, and the Lancaster workshops closed.
In war time, they built wings and propellors for the de HavillandDH9 and parts of the Mosquito.
Bruce James Talbert
During the 1860s and 70s, Gillows employed the Gothic Revivalist designer Bruce James Talbert (1838–81). The firm produced many items of furniture to Talbert's designs, including two sideboards from around 1872, on display at the Judges' Lodgings.
In 1867, Talbert wrote Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work and Decoration for Domestic Purposes, this work proved to be influential on the commercial production of furniture. Talbert recommended framed construction, decorative inlay and low-relief carving. Another recommendation was the use of large, flat metal hinges. Talbert's work was displayed at numerous international exhibitions, including the International Exhibition of 1873, and his designs in the Medieval and Jacobean styles were produced by many cabinet making firms. His designs tended to be highly detailed, including bold geometric inlaid patterns, intricately carved squares of boxwood and rows of small turned spindles. Some pieces included a carved verse with a moral message.
In the sideboards at the Judges' Lodgings, one of which is known as the Dundee Cabinet, produced by Gillows to Talbert's designs, his characteristic carved squares, geometric designs and rows of spindles are clearly evident.
The Dundee Cabinet is made of stained baywood with inlaid panels of thuya and boxwood. The item is stamped Gillows of Lancaster. An identical piece to this cabinet is illustrated in an entry dated 8 March 1872 in Gillows' Estimate Sketch Book. The drawing is annotated Inlaid bird panel as before, therefore it appears that a similar cabinet had been made previously. An elaborated version of the cabinet appeared in Talbert's Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture, published in 1876.
The sideboard displayed in the butler's pantry is made of oak with panels of boxwood.
On display in the museum are some notable works by George Romney. Romney, who was born in the Furness district of what was then Lancashire, relocated to London in the 1760s but remained in contact with Lancashire, painting the local gentry and buying picture frames from Gillows. A portrait of Abraham Rawlinson, MP for Lancaster in the 1780s, hangs in the entrance hall: it was acquired in 2006. There are also portraits by Joseph Wright of Derby and Sir Thomas Lawrence.
There is a collection of six French paintings, the Lionel Hewlett bequest. This includes two landscapes by the impressionistArmand Guillaumin, one of the river Creuse and another of the Île de Ré, showing the influence of the artist's friend Van Gogh.
Museum of childhood
The displays include a nursery with spectacular 3 seater rocking horse and a reconstructed classroom. The center of the collection is the Brian Elder collection of dolls purchased for the museum in 1976. It includes examples of peg dolls, pressed felt dolls by Lenci, poured wax dolls, bisque porcelain dolls and composition dolls by Armand Marseille, Simon & Halbig and S.F.B.J.. In the display cabinets are doll's houses, Lego, Meccano and some Hornby railway trains.
- ^ abcdHistoric England, "The Judges' Lodgings, attached foregate, steps, gatepiers, gates and railings (1298414)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 8 November 2011
- ^ abcdCross Fleury (1891). Time-Honoured Lancaster. p.436
- ^Cabinet agrees to reopen some Lancashire museums, Lancashire County Council, retrieved 27 April 2018
- ^"The parish of Lancaster (in Lonsdale hundred) - General history and castle". British History Online. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- ^ abcdJudges Lodgings: Architecture, Lancashire Museums, archived from the original on 3 August 2012, retrieved 8 November 2011
- ^ abcdeHartwell, Clare; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2009) , Lancashire: North, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 383–384, ISBN
- ^"Judges' Lodgings". Lancashire Museums. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
- ^"Judges' Lodgings: Collections". Lancashire Museums. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
- ^LCC Press release PR15/0516
- ^"Lancashire County Council confirms cuts to job and services". BBC News. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^Kirby, Dean (11 March 2016). "North of England 'at risk of becoming cultural wasteland' with museums hit by austerity measures". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^LCC documents
- ^Friends of the Judges' Lodgings
- ^Jordison, Sam. "Save my city: the axeing of once great Lancaster". The Guardian. March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- ^"Reprieve for Lancashire's under-threat council museums". BBC News. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^Sullivan, Nicola. "Five Lancashire Museums in last chance saloon". Museums Association. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^"Museums". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- ^"Details - Lancashire County Council".
- ^http://www.lancasterjudgeslodgings.org.uk[bare URL]
- ^"Judges' Lodgings". Lancashire.gov.uk. Lancashire County Council. Archived from the original on 2 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- ^Stuart, Susan (1997). "A portable billiard table by Gillows of Lancaster, 1769". Furniture History. The Furniture History Society. 33: 117–119. JSTOR 23408069.
- ^Clouston (1905). "Minor English Furniture Makers of the Eighteenth Century Article VI-Robert and Richard Gillow". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. 7 (25): 41–45, 48–49. JSTOR 856351.
- ^A History of Gillow of Lancaster, (Lancashire County Council, 1984)
- ^ ab(Payne, p136)
- ^(Payne, p137)
- ^ abcDisplay panel, the Judges' Lodgings, Lancaster
- ^Stuart, Susan E., ‘Part 2: Picture Frames’, in Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840: Cabinetmakers and International Merchants: A Furniture and Business History, vol. 2, Woodbridge, 2008, pp.34-45.
- ^"Portrait of Abraham Rawlinson". National Art Fund. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- ^"Joseph Farington". Art UK. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- ^"Les Dunes de la Covarde, Ile de Re". Art UK. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- ^Interpretive Board, at the Judges' Lodgings museum
- Burkett, Mary E.; Tyson, Edith; How, Davidson; Hasted, Rachel (1984). A history of Gillow of Lancaster. Lancashire: Lancashire County Library. ISBN .
- Dunn, Judith (2008). "Gillows of Lancaster Two Centuries of English Furniture". New England Antiques Journal. Palmer, MA 01069. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012.CS1 maint: location (link)
- Payne, Christopher, ed. (1989). Sotheby's concise encyclopedia of furniture (Reprint ed.). London: Conran Octopus. ISBN .
- Apter-Fredericks (2014). "18th Century Memorable Pieces". 265 - 267 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HY: Apter-Fredericks. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.CS1 maint: location (link)
- "A History of Gillow of Lancaster". Lancashire County Council. 1984.
- Display panel. The Judges' Lodgings, Lancaster.
Court of Common Pleas
The Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas is a trial court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania.
The judges of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas include:
- See also: Pennsylvania judicial elections
Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that hold elections for judicial positions. To learn more about judicial selection in Pennsylvania, click here.
- See also: Partisan election of judges
The 439 judges of the court of common pleas are elected to 10-year terms in partisan elections. Candidates may cross-file with both political parties for the partisan primaries, which are followed by general elections where the primary winners from each party compete. Judges must run in yes-no retention elections if they wish to continue serving after their first term. A separate part of the ballot is designated for these elections, and judges' names appear without respect to party affiliation.
- The president judge of each Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas is chosen by either peer vote or seniority, depending on the size of the court. Statewide, all courts composed of more than seven individuals must select their chief judge by peer vote. Those with seven or fewer members select their chief by seniority.
To serve on an appellate or general jurisdiction court, a judge must:
- have state residence for at least one year;
- be a district resident for at least one year (for common pleas judges);
- be a member of the state bar; and
- be under the age of 75.
While retirement at 75 is mandatory, judges may apply for senior judge status. Senior judges may serve as such until the last day of the calendar year in which they turn 78.
Though the state holds partisan elections, most candidates cross-file with the major political parties. If a candidate wins both the Republican and Democratic primary, he or she runs unopposed in the general election.
All judges except those of the magisterial districts face retention elections following their initial term. After a judge has won an initial partisan election, subsequent terms are attained through retention elections. In retention elections, judges do not compete against another candidate, but voters are given a "yes" or "no" choice whether to keep the justice in office for another term. If the candidate receives more yes votes than no votes, he or she is successfully retained. If not, the candidate is not retained, and there will be a vacancy in that court upon the expiration of that term. This applies to all judges except magisterial district judges, who are always elected in partisan elections.
- ↑Intelligencer Journal "Clock runs on judgeship pick," April 20, 2010(timed out)
- ↑ 2.02.12.22.3American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Pennsylvania," archived October 3, 2014
- ↑The Morning Call, "Ban Cross-filing As One Step," January 24, 1985
- ↑The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, "In Re: Nomination Papers of Marakay Rogers, Christina Valente and Carl J. Romanelli," November 7, 2006
- ↑ 5.05.1The Pennsylvania Code, "Chapter 7. Assignment of Judges," accessed September 3, 2014
- ↑Pennsylvania Courts, "How Judges Are Elected," accessed July 22, 2015
- ↑Pennsylvania General Assembly, "Constitution of Pennsylvania, Article V, Section 15," accessed April 30, 2014
Bringing the stories of Lancaster to life for everyone, through the city's oldest town house.
Nestled below Lancaster Castle, the Judges' Lodgings dates back nearly 400 years on a site that has been at the centre of Lancaster's history for nearly 2000 years. The current house was built around 1625 by Thomas Covell, Keeper of the Castle and famous for locking up the Pendle Witches during the infamous Lancashire Witch Trials. From 1826 the house became a lodgings for the travelling 'Red Judges' of the Assizes Courts. Dressed in their scarlet robes, the Judges decided the fate of murderers, forgers and highwaymen at Lancaster Castle. Today the house is home to beautiful Georgian furniture by Gillows of Lancaster, elegant period rooms and the popular Museum of Childhood.
Plan your visit
Judges' Lodgings is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Sunday 7 November 2021. Opening times are 11am to 4pm. We will open again in Spring 2022.
We are a Covid safe venue. Read more before you visit the Judges' Lodgings.
- Adults £3
- Concessions £2 (over 65, people with a disability, carers, unwaged and students)
- Accompanied children free
- For group bookings or guided tours please contact us to discuss your needs
- We will honour any Museum Explorer tickets
How to find us
Judges' Lodgings Museum
Plan your journey and view bus timetables for your areaand train times(external site).
View Larger Map
Judges’ Lodgings Museum is easily accessible by public transport.
Lancaster is easily reached off the M6 at Junction 34. Use the park and ride or follow signs for the city centre and Lancaster castle or follow your sat nav to LA1 1YS. Please note there is no parking onsite at Judges’ Lodgings. Street parking is available on Castle Hill or car parks are available in the city centre, Dallas Road Pay & Display or Bridge Park Safe.
The museum is a 5 minute walk from Lancaster City Centre. Follow Church Street west towards Lancaster Castle. Use the crossing over Bridge Street/China Street and the museum is directly in front.
The museum is a 5 minute walk from Lancaster Bus Station. Exit the Bus Station left onto Cable Street and follow the road round to Bridge Lane. The museum is up the hill on the right hand side opposite Covell Cross and Church Street.
The museum is a 10 minute walk from Lancaster Train Station. Arriving from the North, turn left out of the station up the footpath following the signs for Judges’ Lodgings. Turn right onto West Road and keep the castle on your left as you walk along Castle Park. Turn left to Castle Hill and then take the cobbled road right down Castle Hill. The museum is on your left hand side at the bottom of the hill opposite Covell Cross. Arriving by train from the South, take the footbridge within the station and follow the directions above.
- Baby changing facilities.
- Buggy park available on the ground floor. The museum welcomes breastfeeding mums and a Breastfeeding Room is available on top floor.
- Assistance dogs are welcome and a dog bowl is available by the front door for canine friends.
- Walled courtyard picnic area* and garden, providing a little oasis of green in the heart of the city.
- Gift shop.
- You are welcome to access the ground floor of the museum up a small single step through the side entrance, which is up a short steep hill.
*Please note, the picnic area may not always be available.
The museum is housed in a 17th century house with no lift and unfortunately access is limited. Visitors in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility are welcome to access the ground floor of the museum through the side entrance which is up a short steep hill. There is no parking onsite but you access to the site down Castle Hill. Large print information is available on request.
See the access statement (PDF 2MB) for more detail or please ring the museum team if you have any questions.
If you've visited us recently, don't forget to leave us a TripAdvisor review.
Discover more of Lancashire's diverse history and visit one of our other Lancashire Museums. Which of our museums will you visit next?
Things to see and do
Today the Judges' Lodgings is home to the finest collection of Gillows furniture on public display in the world. Contemporaries of Chippendale, Gillows Cabinet Makers made beautiful functional furniture for the aspiring middle classes, gentry and 'half the aristocracy in England' in the 1700s and 1800s.
Founded in 1728 by Robert Gillow, the company's success coincided with Lancaster's growth during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Gillows traded West Indian goods like wood, sugar and spirits produced by enslaved Africans. Their reputation for providing excellent furniture made with exotic woods grew and they opened a fashionable London showroom. In the 1800s Gillows furnished the New Palace of Westminster and received the Royal Warrant. Commissions in Australia, South Africa, America and Europe followed. In the 1900s the company, now 'Waring and Gillow', decorated 'Lusitania' and 'Queen Elizabeth' ocean liners. You can find out more in the period rooms and the Gillows Gallery at Judges' Lodgings.
Here's what some of our visitors had to say:
"The Judges’ Lodgings is THE place to visit in Lancaster. The building is a beautiful Georgian townhouse with an interesting history set in an old area of cobbled streets near castle and the priory church."
"Fantastic – lots of fun for the kids and nostalgia for us oldies. We will be back!"
"Why oh why have we not visited the Judges’ Lodgings before? Excellently presented throughout and is a must visit whether you are local or from out of town."
"This is a great place to go. My children aged 9 and 11 really enjoyed it. We were offered activity worksheets on arrival which really got them interested. Really friendly staff, and very cheap. Well worth a visit."
At Judges' Lodgings you can…
- Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Covell, famous for locking up the Witches in their underground dungeon during the Lancashire Witch Trials.
- Find the hidden place where the Judges went to the toilet and see it's actually rather grand.
- Discover the largest collection of Gillows furniture on display in the world.
- Step inside the Victorian Schoolroom and find the kinds of toys your grandparents played with.
The museum welcomes families so get your little ones hands on cleaning in the Victorian kitchen or try out life in our Victorian schoolroom. You could always try the children’s trail or the free weekend drop in, subject to the latest coronavirus restrictions. Please check before you travel.
Most visitors spend 1-2 hours in the museum, though some stay much longer for activities or playing in the Museum of Childhood.
Indulge in a trip down memory lane with our enchanting Museum of Childhood on the top floor of the Judges' Lodgings. The collection covers 200 years of childhood treasures from wax dolls to He-Man figures and includes the Brian Elder Toy and Doll Collection. The museum includes a Victorian School Room, Day and Night Nurseries. Spend time to enjoy the Victorian School Room, Doll Galleries, Victorian Play Room, Day and Night Nurseries.
If you've visited us, what was your favourite thing you learnt about Judges' Lodgings? Let us know by sharing your experiences on Twitter using #JudgesLodgings and don't forget to tag in @LancsMuseums on Twitter and @LancsMuseums on Facebook.
Why not join the Friends of Lancaster Judges’ Lodgings and help to promote and support the oldest town house in Lancaster.
What's on: events and exhibitions
Search for the latest events at Judges' Lodgings. If there are no current events listed check back for new events soon. We look forward to seeing you.
Our Friends of Judges' Lodgings offer delicious tea and cake at our Victorian Tea Room every second Saturday.
Facing the Past is a collaborative project that will reveal the stories of the enslaved people who came to or through Lancaster, starting with the locations where those who benefitted from slavery are memorialised.
Our events programme has previously included a huge variety of events for all ages and interests throughout the season from Festa Italia and Heritage Open Days to Dino Day Poo Workshops. There’s family workshops every Friday of school holidays, free kids drop-in at weekends or our popular lunchtime lecture series on the last Friday of the month.
Our Heritage Learning Team's aim is to give pupils the opportunity to explore and appreciate Lancashire's rich heritage through access to our unique collections and stimulating sites such as Judges' Lodgings; Lancaster's oldest town house, a fine Grade I listed building. Through active participation, role play and object handling sessions, your pupils are given the opportunity to explore and discover what life would have been like for children their age during the Victorian era. Sessions include At Play, At School, Upstairs/Downstairs, Home Life, Toy Gallery and House Tour.
School sessions can be tailored to complement your curriculum. We work closely with teachers to meet individual needs and reinforce classroom learning.
Find out more about Learning with Lancashire Museums.
Lancaster County Court System and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there are four levels of Judiciary: Supreme Court, Superior Court / Commonwealth Court, Court of Common Pleas, and Minor Judiciary. In Lancaster County two of these levels comprise the court system, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, Second Judicial District, and the Lancaster County Minor Judiciary or Magisterial District Courts.
The Courts of the Minor Judiciary are the courts of initial jurisdiction. It is at this level where many court proceedings are instituted. A case may be referred or appealed from the Magisterial District Court to the Court of Common Pleas. Any appeals from the Court of Common Pleas are filed with the Superior Court or the Commonwealth Court, and in a few restricted instances, a case may be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court, which is the highest Court in Pennsylvania.
Because of their positions within Pennsylvania's unified judiciary, the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas and the Lancaster County Magisterial District Courts maintain wide-ranging contact with Lancaster County's citizens and thus facilitate the accessibility of judicial services.
Setting the Standard
Lancaster County judges and court officials have often set the example for other court systems with innovative programs to improve the administration of justice. In 1960, the court created a separate Office of Domestic Relations. With cooperation of local businesses in 1965, the court implemented a work release program at the Lancaster County Prison to promote rehabilitation of the offender.
In 1980, a Special Offenders Service project was launched within the probation and parole department. The special offenders project has gained national recognition for its work in supervising mentally ill and retarded persons who have been convicted of crimes. In the 1990's Lancaster County is still striving to set the standard for other jurisdictions.
The Intermediate Punishment Program provides an alternative to incarceration or traditional probation/parole services for the non-violent offender. Some forms of the Intermediate Punishment Program include house arrest and intensive supervision. In 1997, the Domestic Relations department became one of two pilot sites in the Commonwealth for implementation of the state-wide Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System (PACSES).
Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judges
David L. Ashworth, President Judge
David R. Workman
Dennis E. Reinaker
Donald R. Totaro
Howard F. Knisely
Jeffery D. Wright
Christopher A. Hackman
Jeffrey J. Reich
Leonard G. Brown, III
Merrill M. Spahn Jr.
Thomas B. Sponaugle
Jeffrey A. Conrad
Craig W. Stedman
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