Erie County’s judiciary consists of nine trial court judges and 13 magisterial district judges. All are state employees, though they serve Erie County.
Their judges, along with those of the Erie County Court Administration, are overseen by Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla.
The trial court judges – officially, judges of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas – are elected by the voters of Erie County. They are elected to a 10-year term, after which they can request that voters retain them. They hear both criminal and civil cases. They also hear matters involving children and families.
Before those accused of crimes face a trial court judge, however, they usually face one of the magisterial district judges at an arraignment or preliminary hearing. Magisterial district judges also hear traffic cases. Each Erie County magisterial district judges represents a different district in Erie County. They are elected to a six-year term, after which they can run for re-election in a competitive race.
Did you know? The mandatory retirement age for judges in Pennsylvania is 75, after voters statewide in November 2016 elected to raise it from the previous retirement age of 70.
The county’s Juvenile Probation and Adult Probation departments both operate under the oversight of the Court Administration.
The Juvenile Probation division, supervised by Bob Blakely, aims to provide a “balanced approach” to juvenile justice, working to maximize effective supervision of juvenile offenders and reduce delinquent conduct. The department, with 48 county employees, provides intake, detention, court and placement services, as well as electronic monitoring, counseling, drug intervention, and other programs.
The Adult Probation division, under the supervision of Paul Markiewicz, aims to keep the community safe by supervising and operating programs for adult offenders, who have been sentenced by the Erie County Court of Common Pleas to a period of probation and/or parole. The department, which has 73 county employees, also strives to reduce recidivism rates among adults, and works to collect court-imposed fines, fees, costs and restitution that have been imposed on adult offenders.
Did you know? The Adult Probation division has teamed up with other county departments to operate Treatment Courts that aim to address underlying causes of some offenders’ legal issues.
Erie County’s Domestic Relations department serves as the county’s child/spousal support agency.
Domestic Relations, which is supervised by Director Mark Causgrove under the oversight of Court Administration, also works with the other agencies involving cases where children are receiving welfare or where children are no longer in their parents’ custody.
The department, which has 74 employees, also assists dependents who require financial assistance and enforces financial and medical support orders for all qualifying parties.
Did you know? The department achieved the benchmark performance in four federally mandated performance measures for seven straight years.
Erie County’s court system represents the judicial branch of county government, operating independently of the legislative branch (County Council) and the executive branch (the County Executive).
Court Administrator Peter Freed manages the day-to-day operations of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, which is overseen by President Judge John J. Trucilla.
The Court Administrator oversees all departments in the court system, including court reporters, jury coordinators, the courts’ computer bureau, and the law library. Currently, 69 county employees work in Court Administration.
The county’s offices of Domestic Relations, as well as Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation, also operate under the oversight of the Court Administrator.
Did you know? County judges, magisterial district judges, the court administrator and deputy court administrators are all state employees, not county employees.