PRINTER'S NO. 1601
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
978
Session of
2020
INTRODUCED BY A. WILLIAMS, MUTH, L. WILLIAMS, COLLETT, FARNESE
AND SANTARSIERO, MARCH 25, 2020
REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, MARCH 25, 2020
AN ACT
Amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in selection, retention
and removal of judicial officers, further providing for
vacancies in office.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 3132(a) of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes is amended and the section is amended by
adding a subsection to read:
ยง 3132. Vacancies in office.
(a) [General rule] Procedure.--
(1) Except as provided in [subsection] subsections (a.1)
and (b), a vacancy in the office of judge or magisterial
district judge shall be filled by appointment by the Governor
following the required period of public comment as provided
in subsection (a.1). The appointment shall be with the advice
and consent of two-thirds of the members elected to the
Senate, except in the case of magisterial district judges
which shall be by a majority.
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(2) Prior to voting on the confirmation of any nominee
for appointment to the Supreme Court, Superior Court or
Commonwealth Court, or a court of common pleas, a public,
televised confirmation hearing shall be conducted in which
equal time is reserved for questions from the majority
chairperson and the minority chairperson of the designated
committee to which the nomination has been referred.
(3) The person so appointed shall serve for a term
ending on the first Monday of January following the next
municipal election more than ten months after the vacancy
occurs or for the remainder of the unexpired term whichever
is less.
(a.1) Judicial vacancies public comment period.--
(1) Upon the occurrence of a vacancy under subsection
(a), the Governor shall direct the Office of General Counsel
to solicit applications for the vacancy for a period of not
less than 30 days.
(2) Following the application period, the Office of
General Counsel shall publish on a publicly accessible
Internet website the application materials of each applicant,
redacting personal information as defined by section 708(b)
(6)(i) of the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known
as the Right-to-Know Law, for a period of not less than 30
days during which time the Governor shall refrain from making
an appointment. Public comment received during this period
shall be furnished to the majority and minority chairpersons
of the designated committee to which the nomination has been
referred.
(3) Thereafter, the Governor shall submit to the Senate
a nominee for the advice and consent of the Senate from among
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the applicants under paragraph (1).
(4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to
limit the authority of the Governor to exercise his own
judgment in appointing a person to the office of justice,
judge or magisterial district judge or to limit further
review of applicants by the Office of General Counsel.
* * *
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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