Justice delayed is justice denied, the legal maxim goes.
And if our state senator doesn't get moving soon, justice in York County could very well be denied, according to President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh.
There will be two vacancies next year in the county's 14-judge Common Pleas Court after Penny L. Blackwell retires Jan. 6. Judge Sheryl Ann Dorney retired last July.
The process for temporarily filling those seats until next year's election involves state Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township, nominating replacements to Gov. Tom Corbett, who announces the candidate as his nominee and forwards the person's name to the state Senate.
The Senate must confirm the candidates by a two-thirds majority.
But Waugh said he's not sure he will even submit nominees, explaining it's "a long process" that requires the support of both parties in the Senate and "takes some doing to get it to happen."
It's true the process can be long: After Judge Chuck Patterson unexpectedly died Nov. 21, 2011, his replacement, Michael Flannelly, wasn't sworn in until July 12, 2012.
But that just means the senator should have started the process months ago.
Dorney retired over the summer, and Blackwell's intent to hang up her robe was well-known since around that same time.
It's surprising Waugh doesn't already have a short list of possible replacements in hand.
If he doesn't start the appointment process, the two positions will remain vacant until voters elect the judges in the November 2015 election. In that scenario, the new judges wouldn't take their seats until in January 2016.
That's too long for the court to be short-staffed.
Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell said the county's criminal cases have increased steadily in recent years, up from 7,630 in 2010 to 9,226 criminal cases in 2012. The cases are on track to exceed 9,000 again this year, he said.
Without a full bench, Linebaugh said, it will be difficult to handle all of those criminal cases, not to mention the civil cases, which he alone will be hearing.
"The cases that are going to be delayed or not heard starting next year if we don't get some help are the civil cases," he said.
The process of appointing judges might be long, but it needn't be difficult -- as long it's free of political games.
In fact, politics should have no place on the bench. That's one reason judicial candidates are allowed to run as both Democrats and Republicans and why most do, in fact, cross-file.
Either an attorney is qualified to interpret the law, or he or she is not.
If Waugh were to nominate the best possible candidates with impeccable resumes, we think he might be surprised at the bipartisan support that would follow.
He owes it to the residents of York County to at least try to fill these important positions.