Associate Judges

History of Judges

Article V, Section 5 of the Constitution of 1874 provided whenever a county shall contain 40,000 inhabitants it would constitute a separate judicial district.  In those separate districts, the office of associate judge not learned in the law was abolished.  The office of associate judge not learned in the law was created as part of the implementation of the Constitution of 1790.  Article 4 of the 1790 Constitution directed the state to be divided into districts.  A president judge was to be appointed in each district.  As directed by the Constitution the Legislature passed the Act of April 13, 1791.  Section II of the Act described the boundaries of the five judicial districts created.  Section III provided that in each district, “a person of knowledge and integrity skilled in the laws shall be appointed and commissioned by the Governor to be President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas within such district or circuit, and a number of other proper persons, not fewer than three, nor more than four, shall be appointed and commissioned judges of the Court of Common Pleas, in and for each and every one of the counties of this Commonwealth. . . ”  Section I, section 16 adopted with the Constitution of 1874, specifically refers to the lay judges as “Associate Judge not learned in the law.”  From 1874, the term of associate judge was five years.  The biographies described herein are the judges learned in the law “the Law Judges” who presided over the Bedford County Courts.  The position of associate judges not learned in the law was not abolished until the passage of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1967-1968.

[Image of court houses: Copyright 2017 Larry D. Smith, used with permission.]