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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 4, 2019 03:37 PM
From: Representative Kate A. Klunk
To: All House members
Subject: Constitutional Amendment: Requiring Magisterial District Judge Candidates to be Certified as Having Completed Training and Exam Prior to Filing Nomination Petition
The Pennsylvania Constitution establishes the office of Magisterial District Judge (MDJ). MDJs of the court need not be licensed attorneys; however, the Pennsylvania Constitution requires those who are not licensed attorneys to complete a training course and pass an examination before taking office. As a result, a vacancy on the court occurs if a person is elected to the office but does not complete the training or pass the test. These vacancies can remain for a long time, depriving citizens of access to the court and causing other MDJ’s or senior judges to fill the void.

A prior statute was passed by the General Assembly to require MJD candidates to complete the training before they could run for office. That statute was held to violate the Pennsylvania Constitution since the latter provides only for completion of the requirements before taking office.

I intend to introduce a joint resolution to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require candidates for the office of MDJ to be certified as having completed the training and passed the test prior to filing a nominating petition. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns regarding this legislation, please contact Joani Schaffner at 717-787-4790 in my Harrisburg office.

Introduced as HB1019