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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 96-1706



Judge Pro Tempore Program; Misc. Doc. No. 82-7677

[26 Pa.B. 4902]


   And Now, to wit, this 25th day of September, 1996, due to the dire conditions which have resulted from the current overwhelming caseload of both civil and criminal cases that face the judges of this Court,

   It is hereby Ordered and Decreed for all that a Judge Pro Tempore Program is established in this judicial district utilizing the volunteer services of experienced family law lawyers who have been or will be designated by the Court to preside as ''Judges Pro Tempore.''

   It is further Ordered and Decreed that the following procedures and qualifications will be followed with regard to this Program:

   1.  Duties and Responsibilities of Judges Pro Tempore. The Delaware County Bar Association, with the approval of the Court, will determine the names and number of Judges Pro Tem and the number of cases to be assigned to each Judge Pro Tem once the group of cases is identified by the Court Administrator.

   Said designated judges may hear evidence, conduct conferences and hearings and may, thereafter, make appropriate recommendations to this Court for the entry of necessary orders.

   2.  Implementation of Program. The Program is initially intended to exist from June of 1996 through December of 1997. The scope of the Program will be ''new'' equitable distribution cases and custody cases which have been conciliated and assigned to a judge awaiting pre-trial conference.

   Each case chosen for this Program will be individually assigned by Court Order. The Judge signing the Order in custody cases is to be considered the assigned Judge. Each Judge Pro Tem will thereafter be responsible for obtaining the Court file from OJS and signing for the file. The parties shall provide a copy of all subsequent pleadings to the Judge Pro Tem after assignment.

   The cases assigned to the Program have been screened generally for conflicts. If a conflict arises after a file has been assigned, the Judge Pro Tem is to contact the Office of the Court Administrator and return the file to OJS.

   3.  Custody Cases. Once the Judge Pro Tem has obtained the file, the Judge Pro Tem is to schedule a conference at the time and place of his/her choosing. The Judge Pro Tem will either make a recommendation or have the parties agree to a temporary order, which stipulation/temporary order will be forwarded to the Office of the Court Administrator for referral to the assigned Judge. Should the case be returned without an agreement, the Judge Pro Tem should posture the case so that it is ''trial ready.''

   4.  Equitable Distribution. The Judge Pro Tem will schedule an initial management/discovery conference. At the time of scheduling, a pretrial statement form is to be sent to and completed by the parties. A management order is to be completed and forwarded to the Court Administrator for referral to a judge, a copy of which is to be provided to the attorneys for the parties.

   The Judge Pro Tem will schedule a pretrial conference and/or hearing, after which the Judge Pro Tem shall complete and submit a recommendation to the Office of the Court Administrator for referral to a judge. All agreements, stipulations or settlements are to be documented, filed of record and forwarded to the Court Administrator. The Court Administrator will thereafter refer the matter to a judge who will file the signed original with the Office of Judicial Support.

   5.  Motions. Emergency matters are to be brought to the attention of the assigned judge, who may choose to return the matter to the Judge Pro Tem for mediation. All motions are to be decided by the Court or Equitable Distribution Masters. Equitable Distribution Masters may refer the matter to a Judge Pro Tem.

   6.  Special Relief. Any issue of special relief may be heard by the assigned Judge Pro Tem upon stipulation of the parties. The parties should notify the court at the time of filing of such a stipulation. In the absence of such a stipulation, the matter shall be heard by a trial judge.

   7.  Noncompliance. Failure to comply with the Court's order regarding the aforementioned will result in a recommendation by the Judge Pro Tem for a hearing before the assigned judge. The assigned judge will review the case and determine whether or not a hearing should be scheduled and/or sanctions need be imposed.

   8.  Changes in Procedure. The procedure set forth herein may be changed from time to time by notice appearing in the Delaware County Legal Journal.

   9.  Effective date. The within procedure will become effective thirty (30) days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

   As required by Pa.R.C.P. No. 239, the original Order shall be filed with the Office of Judicial Support and copies shall be submitted to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Civil Procedure Rules Committee. Copies of the Order will also be submitted to Legal Communications, Ltd., The Legal Intelligencer, and the Delaware County Legal Journal.

By the Court

President Judge

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 96-1706. Filed for public inspection October 11, 1996, 9:00 a.m.]

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