In Washington County, there are eleven magisterial districts strategically located throughout the County. Each district is served by an elected Magisterial District Judge who serves a six-year term. The Magisterial District Judges are regulated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and are directly responsible to President Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca.
The minor judiciary, as Magisterial District Judges as a whole are known, is the court of initial jurisdiction in all criminal court cases through the County and State of Pennsylvania, conducting summary hearings and preliminary hearings in cases of misdemeanor and felony offenses. The Magisterial District Judge is an integral part of the criminal justice system of Pennsylvania.
The Magisterial District Judges hear civil suits filed by individual citizens or businesses where the amount in dispute does not exceed $12,000.00. The Magisterial District Judges can also perform a marriage ceremony.
In Washington County, we have a central court system which was initiated to hold preliminary hearings in cases of Homicide, Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Perjury, Armed Robbery, and Arson. In cases that are held at Central Court, a representative from the District Attorney's Office will act as the prosecutor. Magisterial District Judges are assigned on a monthly basis to preside over this Court, which is held in the Washington County Courthouse.