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  • BERKS COUNTYCourt of

    CommonPleas

    2002 ANNUAL REPORT

    BERKS COUNTYCourt of

    CommonPleas

  • Forrest R. Shanaman1858 1859

    W. J. Woodward1861 1874

    Robert Porter1810 1832

    Paul N. Schaeffer1924 1945

    John Banks1836 1846

    John Spayd1806 1809

    Garrick Mallery1833 1835

    Gustav Endlich1908 1924

    H. Robert Mays1946 1957

    James N. Ermentrout1890 1907

    PRESIDENT JUDGES1752 Conrad Weiser1791-1805 Jacob Rush1806-1809 John Spayd1810-1832 Robert Porter1833-1835 Garrick Mallery1836-1846 John Banks1847-1848 J. Pringle Jones1849-1861 David F. Gordon1861-1874 W. J. Woodward1875-1889 Jeremiah Hagerman1890-1907 James N. Ermentrout1908-1924 Gustav A. Endlich1924-1945 Paul N. Schaeffer1946-1957 H. Robert Mays1958-1959 Forrest R. Shanaman1959-1973 Warren K. Hess1974-1980 W. Richard Eshelman1981-1982 Fredrick Edenharter1982-1983 Grant E. Wesner1983-1997 Forrest G. Schaeffer1997-2000 Scott D. Keller2000-2003 Albert A. Stallone

  • 1

    TABLE OF CONTENTS Letter from the President Judge 2

    Executive Summary 3

    Historical Perspective 4

    Organizational Chart 5

    Board of Judges 6

    Court Summary 9Criminal CourtFamily CourtIndirect Criminal ContemptChild CustodyPFADivorcesOrphans CourtCivil Court

    District Justices 11

    Office of the Court Administraor 13Adult Probation & ParoleJuevenile ProbationDomestic RelationsLaw LibraryCourt Reporters

    BOARD OF JUDGES President Judge

    Albert A. StalloneHon. Thomas J. EshelmanHon. Arthur E. GrimHon. Scott D. KellerHon. Linda K.M. LudgateHon. Peter W. SchmehlHon. Jeffrey K. SprecherHon. Stephen B. LiebermanHon. Jeffrey L. SchmehlHon. Scott E. LashHon. Mary Ann CampbellHon. Thomas G. Parisi

    SENIOR JUDGES* Hon. Frederick EdenharterHon. Forrest SchaefferHon. Elizabeth Ehrlich

    *Denotes retired judges who continue to serve the PresidentJudge and the needs of the Court

    DISTRICT JUSTICESHon. Richard C. BeckHon. Michael J.

    LeonardziakHon. Wallace S. ScottHon. Thomas H. XaviosHon. William N. Hall, Jr.Hon. Dean R. PattonHon. Felix V. StacherskiHon. Timothy M. DoughertyHon. Phyllis J. KowalskiHon. Nicholas M. BentzHon. Susanne R. WalleyHon. Michael G. HartmanHon. Ronald C. MestHon. Gail M. GrethHon. Thomas M. Gauby, Sr.Hon. Gloria W. StitzelHon. Carol A. StoudtHon. Deborah P. Lachina

    SENIOR DISTRICTJUSTICES*Hon. Doris JamesHon. John DoughertyHon. Richard ReeserHon. John MillerHon. George Wenger

    *Denotes retired district justiceswho continue to serve thePresident Judge and the needs ofthe Court

    COURT ADMINISTRATIONDale G. Derr, District Court

    AdministratorCathy M. Marburger,

    Criminal/Civil CourtAdministrator

    Faith Phillips, SpecialCourts Administrator

    Tracy Barlet, Resources &Technology Administrator

    Lisa M. Waldman, FamilyCourt Administrator

    LAW LIBRARYLinda Fisk, Law Librarian

    COURT REPORTERSMerle Meckley,

    Chief Court Reporter

    ADULT PROBATION AND PAROLERoger Luckenbill,

    Chief Probation Officer

    JUVENILE PROBATIONAND PAROLEBruce Grim,

    Chief Probation Officer

    DOMESTIC RELATIONSMark Poserina, Director

  • 2

    To The Citizens Of Berks County:On behalf of the Board of Judges, I submit this

    2002 Annual Report for all of the courts of BerksCounty which are collectively designated statewide asthe 23rd Judicial District of the Commonwealth ofPennsylvania.

    Obviously, the administration of a court system ofour size and complexity requires the dedication ofmany with diverse talents which begins with ourtwelve commissioned judges and eighteen districtjustices, in addition to our eight senior judges anddistrict justices.

    This spirit of commitment to provide fair andaccessible justice extends throughout the judiciary toits eight court departments and 423 employees. OurCourt Administrator and department heads in CourtAdministration, Adult and Juvenile Probation andDomestic Relations together oversee more than $20million in payroll and operating expenses. They havethe responsibility of understanding and ensuring thatthe vision and priorities of the bench are carried out.Without their daily support, we would not be able tomanage our caseloads, provide our services to thepublic and make the structural changes to our judicialsystem as mandated by the laws promulgated by thestate legislature and directives of the PennsylvaniaSupreme Court.

    As a distinctly separate branch of government, theCourt is reliant on the financial support of theCountys Executive Branch. The collaborative andcongenial relationship between the Commissionersand the Court is, in my opinion, the most rewardingpursuit that I have been involved with in myprofessional career, for it has always been focused onthe desire of each branch to seek ways to fulfill our

    public purpose while atthe same time reducingthe operating costs,which we know isjustifiably theexpectation of all of ourcitizens.

    The need for ourcommunity to have anefficient and user-friendly judiciary is asparamount today as itwas 250 years ago whenthis great county was incorporated through the effortsof Conrad Weiser, our first President Judge.

    Because of my many years as an officer and lastyear as President of the Pennsylvania Conference ofState Trial Judges, where I was able to discuss judicialmatters with many of the Commonwealths greatestminds, I am more confident than ever that the 23rdJudicial District is capable and will continue to setjudicial benchmarks that other counties will be eagerto emulate.

    I know that I speak for all of the members of theBoard of Judges in expressing my deepest appreciationto each and every one of you for your wholeheartedsupport and constructive feedback for our BerksCounty judicial system.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Albert A. StallonePresident Judge

  • 3

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    The publication of this first ever writtenannual report to the community coincideswith the 250th Anniversary of the incorporation of

    the County of Berks. Our intent is for the 23rd

    Judicial District to participate in this special event

    and share our rich and important history with all

    citizens. We hope that by distributing this report

    we will improve upon our publics awareness,

    trust and confidence in its judiciary. The report

    will survey the spectrum of services and programs

    provided by the judiciary and is arranged to

    mirror the organizational structure of the district.

    The members of the judiciary are proud of our

    common purpose, long history, many

    achievements, and most important, our prime

    goal to serve justice in a fair and expeditious

    manner for the citizens of Berks County. Effective

    planning, coordination and collaboration between

    the Courts departments and all Berks County

    organizations support the exemplary leadership of

    President Judge Albert A. Stallone, the Board of

    Judges, and the District Justices. As a result, the

    district has arguably been a judicial leader and

    innovator among the Commonwealths counties

    with similar populations and demographics.

    First Berks County Court House located at Fifth & Penn Streets(1762 - 1840)

    Berks Countys second Court House built on Sixth and CourtStreets (1837 - 1931)

  • 4

    HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

    As soon as Berks County was organized in March of1752, a new Prothonotary and Justices of the Peacebegan to function in the county seat at Reading. The first

    session of Court was held on August 11, 1752. Court

    sessions were held in private homes for the first ten years.

    The first courthouse was built by the people of Berks

    County in 1762 at what is now Fifth and Penn Streets in

    Reading. A new three-story courthouse was built at Sixth

    and Court Streets in 1840. Additions were added in 1869

    and 1889. By the early 20th century, the growth of Berks

    County had begun to challenge the courthouse and our

    current 18-floor courthouse was built in 1931 at Sixth and

    Court Streets. The building cost the taxpayers at the time

    $1.9 million and continues as the tallest building in Berks

    County to this day.

    There were no known lawyers residing in Berks County

    in 1752 and most of them came from Philadelphia or

    Lancaster. Local Justices of the Peace handled most of the

    cases, however, Supreme Court Justices along with

    prosecuting attorneys literally rode the circuit on horseback

    or in carriages to hear major civil and criminal cases. James

    Biddle, Esquire, was the first known attorney to reside in

    Berks County. The first Justices of the Peace included

    Conrad Weiser, Francis Parvin, Jonas Seely, Henry Harvey,

    William Bird, Jacob Levan, and James Read. Since the

    country had not yet seceded from England, King George III

    of England signed the commissions. Some of the men

    involved in the early days of the Berks County judiciary

    were also instrumental in forming our new nation.

    Attorney Edward Biddle and Justice of the Peace James

    Read were part of the seven-member contingent from Berks

    County to participate in the first Provincial Congress in

    Philadelphia on July 15, 1774. Edward Biddle also

    participated in the Continental Congress. He was believed to

    be ill and was not available to sign the Declaration of

    Independence. A copy of the Declaration of Independence

    was read at the Old Berks County Courthouse on July 6,

    1776.

    The Constitution of Pennsylvania of 1790 authorized the

    Governor to appoint judges and justices to each judicial

    circuit. It also provided for our first President Judge of the

    Third J

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