Magisterial District Judge William J. Kissner of Palmerton was again certified for service as a member of Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System after successful completion recently of continuing legal education course work. Conducted by the Minor Judiciary Education Board (MJEB) and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), the educational program for Magisterial District Judges is held in Harrisburg, Pa.
The weeklong instructional program is designed to ensure that Magisterial District Judges remain current in a variety of legal topics and management techniques required to fairly adjudicate cases and effectively supervise a district court office. Included in this year's curriculum are updates on Civil Law, Landlord/Tenant Law, Criminal Law Update; Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code Update; Overweight Vehicles Regulations and Enforcement Update; Bail in Domestic Violence Cases and Protection From Abuse; Driver Records; Realigning a District Court Ethics; Elder Law; MDJS Technical Update; Help Desk Q & A; Legal Advice versus Procedural Information; Contempt, Community Service & Fringe Groups & Legal Representation; Search Warrants in the Clouds, SORNA, & Evidence Update and The Darker Side of Social Networking & It's Effect on the Criminal Justice System.
Continuing education course work is required by stature of each of the more than 500 Pennsylvania Magisterial District Judges, with approximately 50 Magisterial District Judges attending one of 13 such classes at some time during each academic year.
Magisterial District Judges represent the "grass roots" level of Pennsylvania's judicial system. In counties other than Philadelphia, District Judges have jurisdiction over summary, criminal and motor vehicle cases; landlord/tenant matters; and other civil actions where the amount claimed does not exceed $12,000. Magisterial District Judges may also accept guilty pleas in misdemeanor cases of the third degree under certain circumstances. Magisterial District Judges also have jurisdiction to issue arrest and search warrants and to hold arraignments and preliminary hearings in criminal cases.
Established by Constitution, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts provides support to the Supreme Court in exercising its supervisory duties over each of the other state courts. The Minor Judiciary Education Board was established by legislative act to administer the continuing education program for Magisterial District Judges, Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges and Philadelphia Arraignment Court Magistrates (formerly Bail Commissioners), as well as certifying courses for Magisterial District Judges, Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges and Arraignment Court Magistrates and other initial jurisdiction court judges.