The state Supreme Court has asked the President Judges in each county to develop plans for re-drawing the magisterial lines based on the 2010 census. The court is also looking to eliminate ten percent of the 545 districts through retirements.
"The court is asking the judges to suggest new lines and also to look for where we can consolidate districts because of the funding issues in the system," said Art Heinz, spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC).
Judicial redistricting, also referred to as re-establishment, is a statutorily required process that takes place once every 10 years to determine how to allocate state court system resources to best serve the Commonwealth’s citizens, according to a statement released by the AOPC.
The review covers the number and boundaries of each of the state’s 539 magisterial districts. The City of Philadelphia has no magisterial district judges, and does not participate. Conducted by each judicial district, under guidelines established by the Supreme Court, the statewide process is administered by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
Chief Justice Ron Castille said that the AOPC has provided each judicial district with a variety of resources to assist in the development of a plan, including detailed instructions on how to navigate the process along with demographic and population data culled from the U.S. Census Bureau. Case filing and disposition statistics for the last six years also were provided.
"Our goal is to arrive at a statewide plan — conducted in a balanced way — so we can effectively function within our limits," Castille said.