The 50th Judicial District comprises all of Butler County and includes the Court of Common Pleas and the seven Magisterial District Courts.
The Butler County Court of Common Pleas is one of 60 judicial districts throughout Pennsylvania. The Butler County Court of Common Pleas is the general trial court in Butler County and its judges preside over civil, criminal, family, juvenile and orphans’ court matters. In Butler County, there are six judicial seats, of which Attorney Maura Palumbi is running to fill an open judicial seat. Each Common Pleas judge in Butler County is assigned to the civil, domestic or criminal division. The Court of Common Pleas also presides over all matters involving minors and other domestic relations matters including custody, support, dependency and delinquency. Appeals from the Butler County Court of Common Pleas are heard by either the Superior Court of Pennsylvania or the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
Common Pleas judges are elected public officials who are entrusted to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth and the Constitution of the United States, and to uphold the laws enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature and make decisions rooted in case law. Common Pleas judges must be an attorney in good standing with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to be eligible to hold office.
There are seven Magisterial District Courts throughout Butler County. Magisterial District Courts are the first level of the court system in Pennsylvania where many court proceedings are initiated. The magisterial district judges preside over preliminary hearings for criminal matters to determine which cases proceed to trial before the Court of Common Pleas. Magisterial district judges also set bail (except in murder or voluntary manslaughter cases) and also approve arrest warrants and search warrants for law enforcement. The Magisterial District Courts have primary responsibility and authority over all summary matters, including traffic citations, as well as civil matters where the amount in conflict is under $12,000. The Magisterial District Courts also handle landlord/tenant disputes. Appeals of Magisterial District Court decisions go to the Court of Common Pleas.
As a public defender, Attorney Palumbi regularly represents clients in both the Magisterial District Courts and the Court of Common Pleas. She has broad experience with both jury trials and non-jury trials. Attorney Palumbi has practiced before all of the Magisterial District Court judges in Butler County and the majority of the Common Pleas court judges.
Magisterial district judges are elected for six-year terms and must run for re-election. Once elected, Common Pleas court judges serve 10-year terms and run for retention every 10 years. Retention elections are not affiliated with any political party, as retention is intended to be politically neutral. Retention is a nonpartisan way for voters to “judge its judges.” Retention elections take place during the November general elections and voters are asked to vote “yes” or “no” on whether to retain a judge seeking retention.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court presides over all courts within the Commonwealth and is ultimately responsible for the administration of all court business through the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). Additional information about the court system throughout the Commonwealth can be located on the website for the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania at pacourts.us.