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Series: Coronavirus | Story 59

The 57th Judicial District (Bedford County) has implemented policies in the Common Pleas Courts, Magisterial District Judge Courts, and court-related departments (Probation and Parole and Domestic Relations) in an effort to reduce the possibility of the contraction of, and exposure to, the COVID-19 virus.

While these courts/offices shall remain fully functional at the present time, the public is requested to limit their visits to that which is necessary. Effective Friday, March 13, 2020, courtroom galleries shall be limited to 1/3 of normal capacity. Additional designated waiting areas, including outdoor areas, will be available for those waiting for court access. The current situation will continue to be monitored, with policies being modified as circumstances warrant.

March 24, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a declaration of judicial emergency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in response to the spread of COVID-19, and authorized the president judge in each judicial district to declare a judicial emergency under Pennsylvania Rule of Judicial Administration 1952(B) (2).

After much consideration, and in a proactive effort to protect the general health and welfare of the public and court personnel, a judicial emergency has been declared for the 57th Judicial District (Bedford County). Pursuant to the Order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, this state of emergency shall remain in effect until Tuesday, April 14, 2020, unless terminated earlier by Order of Court.

It is important to note that the courthouse, courtrooms (including Magisterial District Judges) and court-related offices will remain open under the current declaration of emergency. While the public is encouraged to limit visits and business within the courts to only that which is necessary, nearly all court-related services are still fully operational and available for public use.

Under the declaration of emergency, the following changes are being implemented:

• Filing deadlines are suspended; Speedy trial requirements in criminal cases are suspended; Jury duty is suspended; Jury trials are suspended; Increased use of telephone and video-conferencing for hearings/conferences.

• In addition, non-essential court hearings and conferences will be re-scheduled to reduce unnecessary contact in the court system. • If you have a court hearing or conference scheduled within the next month, you are encouraged to call Court Administration at (814) 623-4812 for more information.


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