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Below find information on Pennsylvania Courts and where to find court records.

National Center for State Courts/Pennsylvania offers concise court information.

Pennsylvania  Unified Court System's  http://www.courts.state.pa.us/ administration is pyramid shaped.  The Supreme Court is at the top, the next tier has the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, the next tier is the Court of Common Pleas, and the bottom level are the special courts.

Pennsylvania Unified Court System website offers updates to caseload statistics, procedural court committee, and press releases. http://www.courts.state.pa.us/Index/updates.asp

Pennsylvania  Unified Court Systems:

Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System, as one of the state’s three “equal and independent branches of government,” is entrusted with preserving the rule of law and guaranteeing the rights and liberties of its citizens. The court aims to do so “by fairly resolving disputes brought before juries and judges as prescribed by law and by administering all aspects of the judicial process consistent with provisions of the constitutions of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

For public understanding, Pennsylvania likens its court system to a pyramid, with a base of numerous

“special courts” such as magisterial district judges, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh municipal courts and Philadelphia Traffic Court. The second tier of the pyramid is composed of the Common Pleas Courts. Superior Court and Commonwealth Court form the third layer, and the pyramid is capped by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We will deal with these inversely.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The court is composed of seven justices, a chief and six associates. Justices re elected to 10-year terms and can run on party tickets. The justice with the longest continuous service on the Supreme Court automatically is named chief justice.

Presently, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the Honorable Ralph J. Cappy.

Supreme Court justices, as are all Pennsylvania judges, are subject to mandatory retirement at age 70, although under certain circumstances retired judges can service the courts as “senior judges” up to age 75, providing extra manpower to help alleviate heavy caseloads.

Both judicially and administratively, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the state’s highest court. In matters of law, it is the commonwealth’s “court of last resort.” Administratively, the Supreme Court maintains a single, integrated judicial system through its supervisory authority over all other state courts.

In 1980s, the state legislature decreased the Supreme Court’s mandated jurisdiction by expanding the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania’s superior courts. That act allowed the state Supreme Court, like the United States Supreme Court, to exercise its own discretion in accepting or rejecting most appeals, which in turn allows the court to devote more time and attention to important cases with far-reaching consequences. The move also gave the court more time to exercise its constitutional obligation to administer the lower courts.

Opinions issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are available from the court’s Web site, and are searchable by date, content and other parameters.

Superior Court

Pennsylvania Superior Court was established in 1895 to hear the appeals of certain decisions made by the commonwealth’s courts of common pleas. Occasionally the legislature would expand the superior courts’ jurisdiction, and today it decides appeals touching on almost every aspect of life, law and commerce in the state, including family law (child custody, visitation, adoption, divorce and support), criminal cases, matters of wills and estates, property disputes and those involving breach of contract or personal injury. Superior Court judges also are responsible for hearing applications made by the attorney general and district attorneys under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act.

The Superior Court often is the final arbiter of legal disputes in Pennsylvania. The state Supreme Court might grant a petition for appeal, but the large majority of cases appealed after a Superior Court decision are denied a hearing before the Supreme Court.

Originally composed of seven judges to sat together to hear every case, the Superior Court was expanded in 1978 by order of the Supreme Court. Under its constitutionally provided supervisory powers, the Supreme Court, due to an “exceedingly heavy volume of appeals coming to the Superior Court,” began hearing the cases in three-judge panels composed of one Supreme Court Justice, a Superior Court judge and a Common Pleas judge. By rule, the Supreme Court provided that each panel would constitute a quorum and speak for the entire Superior Court.

A year later, voters approved amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to permanently enlarge Superior Court. Now, the court has 15 judges, elected by voters. Judges gained seniority by length of continuous service on the court, and elected judges receive seniority over those who serve by appointment. The president judge – presently Judge Kate Ford Elliott – is chosen by election of the court itself and serves a five-year term.

Unless the court specifically orders consideration of a case by an en banc panel of nine judges, Pennsylvania Superior Court continues to hear cases in three-judge panels assisted by senior judges specially appointed by the Supreme Court.

For Superior Court purposes, the state is divided in three districts: Eastern, Middle and Western. The Eastern District courtroom is the Founders Courtroom in Philadelphia. Superior Court in the Middle District is conducted in the Harrisburg Courtroom on the fourth floor of the historic Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg. In the Western District, court convenes in the Pittsburgh Courtroom on the eighth floor of the city-county building in Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court Web site offers links to a wealth of information about the courts, including a contact directory, its opinions issued, a docket search feature, frequently asked questions including filing fees, and online versions of the courts’ annual reports.

Commonwealth Court

Authorized by Article V, Section 4 of the 1968 Pennsylvania Constitution, the Commonwealth Court was established in 1970 to serve as an additional, intermediate appellate court for the state.

The court meets at 624 Irvis Office Building in the capital city of Harrisburg. Its jurisdiction is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. The Commonwealth Court also serves as a trial court for some civil suits, including cases involving the state or its officers as parties and cases regarding statewide elections.

Nine judges comprise the Commonwealth Court, and they are presently led by President Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter.

Information at the court’s Web site includes the court’s document filing fees, and links o both the court’s reported opinions and unreported opinions, the latter of which are not to be cited by other courts.

Court of Common Pleas

Pennsylvania’s courts of common pleas are midlevel courts that hear all major criminal and civil cases in the state, appeals from lower courts in civil, criminal and traffic matters, and most cases involving children and family law.

A common pleas court is maintained in each county, with contact information for the courts in all 67 counties/districts available online. Local rules applicable to the common pleas courts in each county also are available.

The appropriate court of common pleas can be found by visiting this list of external links maintained by the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System. Some county courts have their own links in the list, while others must be reached by first linking to the county’s main Web site.

Special Courts

In Pennsylvania, the so-calledSpecial Courtsconsist of four types of courtroom venu – the magisterial district judges, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh municipal courts, and Philadelphia Traffic Court.

These courts hear less serious, non-injury criminal cases, many civil cases and all traffic matters. The special courts also have jurisdiction over matters of bail, and make the determination whether more serious criminal cases, such as murder, should be advanced to the Court of Common Pleas.

The Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System maintains a searchable list of magisterial district judges, links to local rules pertaining to each lower court, and a list of fees and other information pertinent to doing business in these courts.

 

Bankruptcy Court:

Adams, Centre, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union, York.

All docket sheets of the Unified Court System: requires log-in and account

Magisterial District Judge

Philadelphia Municipal Court

Court of Common Pleas

Appellate Court

Fifth Judicial Court of Pennsylvania—Allegheny County

Common pleas ,Criminal & Civil  

Bucks County -

--Civil Court

---Criminal Court

--Family & Domestic Court

--Register of Wills & Probate

Carbon County

--Clerk of Court

Chester County

---Court of Common Pleas

--Court of Common Pleas &Criminal

Cumberland County

--Common Pleas    & Criminal Court

Delaware County

--Civil Court

Lehigh County

--Court of Common Pleas

Montgomery County

--Çivil  & Criminal Court

Northhampton County

-Common pleas

--Court Calendar

--Court opinion

Judgments

 Philadelphia County

- 1st Judicial District Civil dockets

--Civil Judgments

--Civil Court, Judgments

Union County

--Civil & criminal Judgments

Westmoreland County

--Common Pleas Civil

Pennsylvania

 --Court of Common Pleas

Northeast Philadelphia Records Facility

--  Federal Archives

   

Web Site Addresses for Courts:

PA Supreme Court:

http://www.courts.state.pa.us/Index/Supreme/IndexSupreme.asp

District Court:

Counties:    Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, York.

http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov

http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/main.aspx?id=1     

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/WebDocketSheets/MDJDocketSelect.aspx

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/WebDocketSheets/CPDocketSelect.aspx?mode=mc

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/WebDocketSheets/CPDocketSelect.aspx?mode=cp

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/WebDocketSheets/PACMSWebDocketSheets.aspx

http://www.alleghenycourts.us/search/default.asp?source=opinions_criminal

http://4.43.65.248/autoform.asp?app=rwr

http://4.43.65.248/autoform.asp?app=cvr

http://4.43.65.248/autoform.asp?app=fcr

http://www.carboncourts.com/pubacc.htm

http://dsf.chesco.org/courts/lib/courts/pdf/misclist.pdf

http://www.ccpa.net/cumberland/cwp/view.asp?a=1369&Q=461527

http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/courts/index.html

http://www.lehighcountycourt.org/

http://www.courts.montcopa.org/courts/cwp/view,a,3,q,36737.asp

http://www.nccpa.org/schedule.html

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/cwp/view.asp?a=3&Q=620826&NorthamptonNav_GID=1978

http://fjd.phila.gov/

http://www.sedacog.org/union/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=401236&unionNav=|10256|

http://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/westmoreland/cwp/view.asp?a=1450&Q=576810&westmorelandNav=|33738|

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/WebDocketSheets/CPDocketSelect.aspx

http://www.archives.gov/midatlantic/fed_agency_services/fed_agency_services.html

 

Federal Court Records

Federal On-line Access to Court Records: Findlaw, eAccess, & Supreme Court

Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER) Pacer Web links for Pennsylvania Courts' Northern, Southern, Eastern & Southern Districts

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