Martin-Baker Bills Addressing District Attorney Vacancies Signed Into Law

HARRISBURG – Three bills that would provide uniformity and consistency to the process of filling county district attorney vacancies were signed into law on Tuesday, 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 8485 and 86 will 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 will 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. I appreciate the fact that this process will now have the uniformity and consistency necessary to protect the important work that our District Attorneys perform.”

The bills are sponsored by Martin and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Lisa Baker (R-20).

“The signing of these bills into law is a victory for safeguarding our justice system across Pennsylvania, and also in my home county of Luzerne,” Senator Lisa Baker said.  “I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in Harrisburg to be a voice for the needs of our local community, as these newly enacted measures will provide stability and a clear process for filling the anticipated vacancy in the office of District Attorney.”

CONTACT:  Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

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