York City district judge-elect Morgan not sworn in

Greg Gross

York City will remain short a district judge after James Morgan was not sworn into office as expected on Monday.

Morgan was elected in November, but, under Pennsylvania law, all incoming district judges who aren't attorneys must take a certification course and pass a corresponding test.

"Morgan will take the oath and assume his judicial duties at a later date, upon completion of all certification requirements and receipt of his commission from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts," according to a statement from York County.

Morgan, a former York City police officer and two-term member of the York City school board, was elected judge of District Court 19-1-02, located at 1215 Roosevelt Ave., after former district judge Richard Martin retired last year. The district covers parts of the city, including the Avenues, Fireside and Colony Park areas.

Seventeen other officials who were elected or re-elected this past fall took their oaths of office in the ceremonial courtroom at the county administration building on Monday.

Now what: The courts administrative office won't say if incoming judges failed the test, only that they've passed it when they do.

Morgan denied that he failed the test when reached by phone last week. He could not be reached for additional comment on Monday.

However, he was not listed in court records as having successfully passed the test.

The courts administrative office denied a Right to Know Request filed by The York Dispatch that sought the test scores for all district judges in the county, as well as the dates they took the test.

Certification training, which consists of a course that runs daily for four weeks, and testing were last held in Harrisburg about a month ago. The next test isn't scheduled until Feb. 4. Candidates have nine months from the date they were elected to pass the test.

"Once they pass, they are certified," said Art Heinz, spokesman for the courts office.

The course covers areas of law such as landlord/tenant cases, the vehicle code, the criminal code and ethics, among other topics, that district judges will be confronted with on the bench.

The court: Despite the district court being without a full-time judge, it will continue to operate as it has the past few months. Senior district judges have been covering judge duties at the since Martin's retirement.

They will continue to hold hearings until Morgan is certified to serve and sworn in, the statement from the county says.

Morgan won't be receiving a paycheck from the state until he's officially sworn in, Heinz said.

"Until a person is actually sworn in, they won't be getting paid," he said, adding Morgan will not receive retroactive pay back to Jan. 4, the date when he was to be sworn in.

In Pennsylvania, district judges are paid $88,290 yearly.

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