Law Credentials Are Optional for Scores of Pennsylvania Judges


You need a law degree to practice law in Pennsylvania–unless you're a judge. Nearly 500 judges in several lower courts, including magisterial district judges and Philadelphia Traffic Court, are not required to have law degrees, reports the Pennsylvania Independent. Eric Epstein, a political activist with Rock the Capital, said it's crucial for district judges to receive education and training to prevent scandals like that in Philadelphia Traffic Court, where nine current and former judges have been indicted on corruption charges.

Non-lawyer judges must complete a four-week training course. They have vast responsibilities, including hearing non-jury criminal and civil cases, handling preliminary hearings and setting bail in the vast majority of criminal cases. Information about the total number of judges without law degrees was not available from the Unified Judicial System online database. But searches show at least 35 non-lawyer judges in Allegheny County, 13 in Chester County and 16 in Delaware County.

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