HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives sent three bills to the governor’s desk today that would provide uniformity and consistency to the process of filling county district attorney vacancies, according to the bills’ sponsor, Senator Scott Martin (R-13).
In current practice, succession plans for the office of district attorney vary from county to county. Some counties mandate that the first assistant district attorney is appointed to the position, while other counties allow county commissioners or judges to appoint new district attorneys.
Senate Bills 84, 85 and 86 would make the process more consistent and transparent by mandating that any vacancies in the office of district attorney are filled by the first assistant in Second through Eighth class counties, including those with home rule charters. These bills also make it consistent that there is a residency requirement as well.
The legislation would also require that the office of District Attorney be on the ballot during the next municipal election so the voters can make their voice be heard.
“Vacancies in the district attorney’s office should be filled by someone who is familiar with the cases, the community and the office, so the first assistant district attorney is the logical choice,” Senator Martin said. “The best way to remove politics from the equation is to provide a clear, consistent process for filling these vacancies that will ensure the office continues to function.”
The bills are sponsored by Martin and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Lisa Baker (R-20).
“The uncertainty under present law has created problems across the state, including most recently in my home county of Luzerne,” Senator Baker said. “I was pleased to work with Senator Martin and the rest of our colleagues over the last several months, to come up with a sensible solution that ensures the uninterrupted and efficient administration of justice. We urge the governor to swiftly sign these bills into law.”
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Martin)
Kate Eckhart Flessner (717) 787-7428 (Baker)