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05/08/2021 07:43 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=34266
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 20, 2021 01:37 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin and Sen. Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Succession in the Office of District Attorney
 
We plan to introduce a package of three bills that will bring consistency to the rules of succession when a vacancy occurs in the office of a county district attorney.

Currently, the various municipal codes governing succession state that in class 2, class 2A and class 3 counties, if a vacancy occurs in the office of district attorney then the judges of the court of common pleas shall appoint “a competent person to fill the office during the balance of the unexpired term.” 

However, in counties of the 4th through 8th class, the judges of the court of common pleas must appoint the first assistant district attorney to fill the vacancy, assuming they meet the eligibility requirements under section 1401 of the county code.  In this scenario, the first assistant filling the vacancy does not automatically serve for the remainder of the term but must face election at the next municipal election.

In some counties under a home rule charter, a replacement is appointed by the County Commissioners.

The first assistant is the logical choice to fill such a vacancy.  They know the cases, the community, the staff and office culture.  Inserting a potentially political decision into the process is not prudent.  These three bills will provide greater transparency and consistency for class 2 through class 8 counties, including those under home rule charters.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this package of legislation.



Document #1

Introduced as SB84

Description: This bill amends the county code to state the first assistant district attorney will become the district attorney in the event of a vacancy for class 2A through 8th class counties until the next municipal election.  This does not change existing law for 4th through 8th class counties.
 

Document #2

Introduced as SB85

Description: This bill amends the second class county code to state the first assistant district attorney will become the district attorney in the event of a vacancy for 2nd class counties until the next municipal election.
 

Document #3

Introduced as SB86

Description: This bill amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) to require counties under a home rule charter to follow the procedures for succession under the county codes in the event of a vacancy in the office of district attorney.