Magisterial Districts - Q & A

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What if I want my hearing before a different Magisterial District Judge?

The moving party must request that the Magisterial District Judge recuse (excuse) himself/herself, and that the case be sent to another Magisterial District Judge. If the Magisterial District Judge agrees to recuse, then either:

  1. The Magisterial District Judge can send the case to another Magisterial District Judge, as designated by Administrative Court Order 92-3, or
  2. The Magisterial District Judge may contact the Court Administrator's Office stating that there has been a recusal and that the Court should consider choosing a Magisterial District Judge outside of the parameters detailed in Administrative Court Order 92-3 to hear the case.

If the Magisterial District Judge refuses to recuse, then the moving party must prepare a Motion (a written outline stating the reason for the change of venue) and Order to be presented to President Judge Katherine B. Emery at her Motions Court. Motions are heard every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at 9:15 a.m. The moving party must give the opposing party three days' notice and a copy of the Motion and Order to be presented prior to appearing at Motions Court.

If the judge grants the change of venue, then the original signed Motion and Order should be filed in the Prothonotary's Office (civil case) or the Clerk of Court's Office (criminal case), with enough copies to be distributed to the following:

  1. The opposing party;
  2. the original Magisterial District Judge;
  3. the district court administrator's office;
  4. and the moving party.

If the judge denies the change of venue, your case will be returned to the original Magisterial District Judge's office for disposition.

What do I do if I have a complaint about a Magisterial District Judge?

The Court Administrator's Office receives complaints against Magisterial District Judges, in written form. Please include your name, address, and telephone number in the letter, and forward same to:

Patrick R. Grimm, Esq.
District Court Administrator
1 South Main Street, Suite 2004
Washington, Pa 15301

Please note that the Court Administrator cannot change the decision of the Magisterial District Judge, and that a letter of complaint to the Court Administrator does not stop the appeal process of your case.

In addition, you may submit your complaint to the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania. For more information on that process, please visit

I have legal questions regarding my case and/or appeal, and no one in the Magisterial District Court will help me. What do I do?

The employees of the Magisterial District Court are not attorneys, and cannot give legal advice. Legal questions should be directed to your attorney. The following is a list of resources available:

Washington County Public Defender's Office: 724-228-6818 (criminal cases only)
Lawyer Referral Service: 724-225-6710
Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid: 724-225-6170
How do I file a private criminal complaint?

The Private Criminal Complaint form can be obtained at the Magisterial District Court in the area where the crime was committed, or from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts' website.

Unless the crime is a summary offense, the Magisterial District Court will forward the complaint to the District Attorney's Office for review and approval. When the District Attorney's Office returns an approved complaint to the Magisterial District Court, a hearing will be scheduled and notice mailed.

If the District Attorney's Office does not approve the complaint, you can petition the Court of Common Pleas for a review of the decision (Pa. Rules of Criminal Procedure 506(2)).

How do I find a Constable?

Constables are enlisted by the Magisterial District Judge to serve process in their office – they are not employees of the Magisterial District Judge, nor are they employees of the Court. Constables are elected officials, and their deputies are employed by them.

Constables are certified by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and a listing of them can be found at their website. A listing of constables can also be found in the Clerk of Court's Office, located on the first floor of the Washington County Courthouse.

Washington County - 27th Judicial District of Pennsylvania
Washington County Court of Common Pleas
Washington County Courthouse
1 South Main Street
Washington, PA 15301
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