Pennsylvania Bar Association to Hold Public Hearings on the Judiciary

In the coming year, the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Constitutional Review Commission will undertake a thorough review of state government operations. With designated committees looking at everything from public education to legislative reapportionment, the Pennsylvania Bar Association intends to offer recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness of the state government including the Pennsylvania judicial branch.

The Judiciary Committee recently announced public hearings regarding the state’s judiciary process, to be held across the state in the early part of 2011. Beginning in January and running through June, hearings are scheduled in Pittsburgh, State College, Erie, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, Mercer County, and Harrisburg.

Through these hearings, the Judiciary Committee hopes to secure information from Pennsylvania residents that will help improve the operation of the state’s government. Specifically, the Judiciary Committee is seeking input from the people of Pennsylvania regarding four topics:

  1. The selection of judges and the financing of judicial campaigns.
  2. Legal representation for those who cannot afford to hire private attorneys.
  3. Funding for the Pennsylvania court system.
  4. The proper way to handle issues of judicial misconduct.

Members of the public are also encouraged to provide any other thoughts they have on matters relating to Article V of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which governs the judiciary. Those seeking to contribute to the hearings must submit an application and a written statement of testimony about two weeks before the particular hearing date.

Based on the input received in the hearings and independent investigations, the Judiciary Committee will make recommendations to the Pennsylvania legislature. Depending on the findings, they may suggest new legislation or amendments to the Constitution or changes that affect how criminal cases or civil claims are heard.

Now is the time for the people of Pennsylvania to make their voices heard; if you have concerns about the judiciary, make plans now to attend these hearings.