About the Philadelphia Courts, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
The First Judicial District (FJD) of Pennsylvania is composed of two courts which make up the Philadelphia County Court System: the Court of Common Pleas; and Municipal Court. The operations of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania are controlled by an Administrative Governing Board which consists of the President and Administrative Judges of the two courts and the State Court Administrator of Pennsylvania. The Chairperson of the Board is appointed annually by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The COURT OF COMMON PLEAS is a general trial jurisdiction court with a complement of one hundred and one judges. The Court of Common Pleas is headed by a President Judge elected by their peers and is organized into three divisions based on case types, each led by an Administrative Judge appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Trial Division is responsible for most felony criminal and major civil cases where the contested amount exceeds $12,000; the Family Division is responsible for Domestic Relations Branch matters (divorce, paternity, custody, child support and domestic violence) and Juvenile Branch cases (delinquency, dependency, and adoptions); and the Orphans' Court Division conducts proceedings involving estates, wills and trusts.
The twenty-seven judge MUNICIPAL COURT is a limited jurisdiction court of record. The Municipal Court is led by a President Judge and is organized into three divisions; Criminal, Civil and Traffic. The Criminal Division is responsible for trying adult criminal cases carrying a maximum sentence of incarceration of five (5) years or less. Municipal Court also has initial jurisdiction in processing every criminal arrest in Philadelphia and conducts misdemeanor trials and preliminary hearings for all felony cases. The Civil Division is the jurisdiction for civil cases where the amount in controversy is $12,000 or less for Small Claims; unlimited dollar amount for Landlord and Tenant Cases and $15,000 in real estate and school tax cases. Because defendants do not have the right to a jury trial in Municipal Court, cases may be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas for a trial de novo.
In June, 2013, the Pennsylvania General Assembly abolished the Philadelphia Traffic Court and transferred jurisdiction for moving violations of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code to the Municipal Court. Moving violations are now adjudicated in the Municipal Court's Traffic Division. The Honorable Joffie C. Pittman, III was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve as the Administrative Judge of the Traffic Division.