Mellott, Knepper Recertified As Magisterial District Judges
Magisterial District Judge Wendy Richards Mellott and Senior Magisterial District Judge Brenda M. Knepper were again certified for service as a member of Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System after successful completion recently of continuing legal education course work. Conducted by the Minor Judiciary Education Board (MJEB) and the administrative office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), the educational program for magisterial district judges is held in Harrisburg.
The weeklong instructional program is designed to ensure that magisterial district judges remain current in a variety of legal topics and management techniques required to fairly adjudicated cases and effectively supervise a district court office. Included in this year’s curriculum updates on the vehicle code, civil law update, landlord/tenant law, local ordinances, home improvement act and RV parks, commercial sexual exploitation human trafficking, Act 112 procedures, penalties and alternative sentencing for youths and tobacco cases, ethics, understanding criminal history for purposes of setting/amending bail, electronic monitoring and modes of bail, internal controls, restitution, expungements, out-of-county warrants and indirect criminal complaint warrants, criminal law update, notarizing protocol and home improvement fraud act, case file destruction, public access, abandonment, default procedures and right to counsel in summary dispositions, bankruptcy, computer facilitated crimes and truancy update, judges’ concerned for judges and sexting, cyber bullying and viral shaming.
Continuing education course work is required by statute of each of the more than 500 Pennsylvania magisterial district judges, with approximately 50 magisterial district judges attending one of 13 such classes during each academic year.
Magisterial district judges represent the “grass roots” level of Pennsylvania’s judicial system. In counties other than Philadelphia, magisterial district judges have jurisdiction over summary, criminal and motor vehicle cases; landlord/tenant matters, and other civil actions where the amount claimed does not exceed $12,000. Magisterial district judges may also accept guilty pleas in misdemeanor cases of the third degree under certain circumstances. Magisterial district judges also have jurisdiction to issue arrest and search warrants and to hold arraignments and preliminary hearings in criminal cases.