The Courts of Common Pleas are Pennsylvania's courts of general trial jurisdiction. They have existed since the colonial charter of Pennsylvania, and are incorporated in the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County presently consists of ninety (90) judges who are currently assigned as follows: , 67; , 20; and (Estates Law, etc.), 3.
The Court of Common Pleas is supervised by a President Judge who is elected for a five year term by the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas.
Honorable Pamela P. Dembe is the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.
The President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas sits on the First Judicial District's Administrative Governing Board, which functions much like a Board of Directors for the District. The Board includes the three president judges, three administrative judges, and the State Court Administrator.
The President Judge has varied authority and responsibilities.
The President Judge:
- initially assigns all newly appointed or elected Judges to one of the divisions
of the court, and may request from the Supreme Court the assignment of Senior
Judges to help dispose of Philadelphia County's case-inventory, and the
appointment of out-of-county Judges to assist the Court in conflict cases
- Directs space allocation within the Court of Common Pleas and assigns judicial
- Is responsible for the implementation of local rules as adopted by the Board
of Judges, and for the initiation of administrative orders, directives, or
general court regulations as may be mandated or authorized by various court
rules and directives, as well as legislative enactments
- Is responsible for preparing an Emergency Judge Schedule assigning a Court
of Common Pleas Judge to act during off-Court hours on emergency matters,
as well as ensuring that Election Court, with numerous satellite locations,
is judicially staffed during the primary and general elections in order to
enable all citizens to exercise their right to vote
- Supervises the , the (all locations), and
the Court Messenger Service
- Supervises all , assigning them as needed, and monitors
the transcription of notes of testimony which are needed to complete the
- Supervises the Mental Health Review Officer(s) who act on behalf of the Court
in hearings pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976, as amended
- Entertains all petitions which seeks to modify monetary judgments issued against defendants accused of criminal offences, and their sureties, when defendants violate the terms of their bail and fail to appear for court hearings
- Maintains a who are suspended or disbarred by the Supreme Court
The President Judge's office is located at 386 , and the President Judge may be reached by telephone at (215) 686-8334, and by FAX at (215) 567-7328.