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judge each. As to territory, seven districts are composed of two counties each, and two districts of three counties each; in all other cases the county is the judicial unit.
County or District Judges.—The judges of county courts are elected by the qualified voters of the entire judicial district at the municipal election. They enter upon their duties on the first Monday in January next after their election. Judges are commissioned by the Governor and take the oath of office (132) required of all judicial, State, and county officers. The president judge of a district is the one whose commission expires at the earliest date. But when two or more judges are elected at the same time in any district (117), they determine by lot which shall be president judge; unless the president judge is reëlected, in which case he continues as president judge of that court. Judges are elected for a term of ten years, and hold office during that time unless removed through misbehavior (115). Casual vacancies are filled by appointment made by the Governor (125). The regular salary of a county judge, in a district of less than 90,000 population, is $6,000; in Philadelphia, $11,000; in Allegheny county, $11,000; in Dauphin county, $9,000; in districts having over 90,000 inhabitants and less than 250,000, $7,000; and in districts having over 250,000 inhabitants and less than 500,000, the salary is $8,500. During their continuance in office, judges must reside within the districts for which they are elected (119). Mileage is allowed for all necessary travel.
Duties of County Judges.—The duties of a judge are numerous, and call for superior qualifications and abilities. His chief duty is to preside at the trial of civil and criminal cases. He must see that the trial is impartially conducted; must hear the evidence, and decide the points of law raised
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during the trial; and deliver the charge to the jury with instructions as to the making up of the verdict. Judges are not to charge juries with respect to matters of fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.
Among the other duties are the declaring of judgments, the sentencing of convicted persons, the granting of petitions, the holding of juvenile court, the appointment of probation officers, the removal of certain officials, the issuing of naturalization papers, the staying of executions, and the chartering of corporations not for profit; also the issuing of writs of injunction, certiorari (110), mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
Associate Judges.---Counties with less than 40,000 inhabitants may be formed into joint judicial districts of two or more counties each. Each of the counties forming such a district has two associate judges not learned in the law. These men need not be, and generally are not, lawyers. The district elects one judge learned in the law, who is the president judge, and who holds court in the counties of his district in turn. Associate judges have the same powers as the president judge, but rarely exercise any but a few of them. They administer oaths, grant licenses, establish new roads, issue writs of habeas corpus, stay writs of execution, and conduct similar judicial business. Since they reside in their respective counties, their services are a convenience during the absence of the president judge. In court they are mainly advisory members on the bench. Being citizens of the county, they know the people and the needs of the county. The term of office of associate judges is six years, and their salary is five dollars per day when actually engaged in the performance of their official duties. The proper basis of salary is the time of their attendance at court.
Recording Officers of Courts.-Certain county officers, whose duties are noticed under the discussion of the county government, are charged with the duty of preparing and preserving the records of the courts, in order that the matter may be preserved for future reference and use in appeals and other legal business. The recording officers are the prothonotary and the clerk of the courts. Justices' courts, not being courts of record, have no clerks; but the justice keeps a docket.
Ministerial Officers.-Other officers of the courts have for their duty the performance of certain work of a ministerial nature, such as the serving of writs, the summoning of witnesses, the execution of orders, etc. The sheriff is the chief ministerial officer of all the county courts. Minor ministerial officers are the court crier, who proclaims the orders and the directions of the court; also the tipstaff, a constable who preserves order and may perform the duties of court crier. In justices' courts, the ministerial officers are the township, borough, ward, or city constables or policemen.
The Higher Courts.—The judicial department is the proper organ for interpreting and construing the laws of the State. When disputes arise concerning the meaning of a law in special cases, or there is doubt whether a law is constitutional or not, appeal must be made from a lower court to a higher court. Such higher courts may have both original and appellate jurisdiction, civil and criminal; but the original jurisdiction is generally very small. By establishing the supreme court, the State constitution provides directly for a court of final appeal; but it confers upon the General Assembly (101) the power to establish additional courts whenever the necessity shall arise. In 1895, for the purpose of
relieving the supreme court of a part of its large business, the superior court was established as a court of intermediate appeal between the county courts and the supreme court of the State. The wisdom of this action is abundantly borne out in the resulting facility with which the judicial business of the Commonwealth is accomplished. The judicial power of the State now begins in the justices' courts and ends in the superior court or in the supreme court.
The Superior Court.—This court consists of seven judges elected by the qualified voters of the State. The term of office is ten years, and begins on the first Monday of January after the election. When two or more judges of the superior court are to be elected for the same term of service, each elector may vote for as many persons less one as there are judges to be chosen at that election.
The jurisdiction of the superior court is almost wholly appellate, the sole evidence of original jurisdiction being the power to issue writs of habeas corpus. The court has exclusive and final appellate jurisdiction in all cases of appeal from the courts of quarter sessions, except cases in which the right to public office is involved; also, in all cases of appeal from the courts of oyer and terminer, except murder (124). The appellant must first obtain permission from one of the judges of the superior court before an appeal can be taken. In civil matters, its jurisdiction is exclusive and final when the amount is not greater than $1,000, except cases brought officially by the attorney-general or those which relate to public officers. However, there may be an appeal from the superior to the supreme court in any case in which the jurisdiction of the superior court is questioned; or the construction and application of the State constitution is involved; or the Constitution of the United States or its statutes involved; or
any case which the supreme court will permit to be brought on appeal before that tribunal.
The superior court sits at Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Williamsport, at least once a year in each city. It has five prothonotaries. The chief judge of the superior court is the one who has been longest in commission. The salary of the judges is $12,000 per annum. The salary of the president judge is $12,500.
The Supreme Court.—The court of final appeal is the supreme court (102). The State constitution provides that this shall consist of seven judges who shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State at large. They shall hold their offices for the term of twenty-one years, if they so long behave themselves well, but shall not be again eligible. The term of office commences on the first Monday of January next succeeding the election, and the Governor commissions accordingly. Whenever two judges of the supreme court are to be chosen for the same term of service, each voter shall vote for one only, and when three are to be chosen he shall vote for no more than two; candidates highest in vote shall be declared elected (116). Priority of commission in such cases is determined by lot (117). The judge whose commission shall first expire shall be chief justice (102). During their continuance in office, the judges of the supreme court must reside within the Commonwealth (119).
The salary of the chief justice is $13,500 a year, and that of the other judges of the supreme court is $13,000. They can receive no other compensation, fee, or perquisite (118).
Jurisdiction of the Court.—The territorial jurisdiction of the supreme court is coextensive with the State. By virtue of their offices, the judges are justices of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery in every county in the State, and