Jon Campisi Nov. 14, 2011, 9:05am

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has a new administrative judge.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille announced Thursday that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge John W. Herron has been appointed as the new administrative judge of the city courts’ trial division.

Herron, who has been assigned to the First Judicial District’s Orphan’s Court for nearly a decade now, will succeed Common Pleas Court Judge D. Webster Keogh as administrative judge of Common Pleas Court’s trial division.

Keogh’s term as administrative judge expired in 2010, but he remained in the position until a successor could be chosen, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which announced the appointment via news release Nov. 10.

“I have every confidence that Judge Herron can do for the criminal division what he did for the civil division that made it into a nationally recognized model,” Chief Justice Castille said in the news release.

A key priority for Herron, who previously served as administrative judge of the civil division of Common Pleas Court from 1996 to 2002, will be to lead Phase II of the Reform Initiative for the city’s criminal courts, the press release states.

In his new role, Herron will handle the following tasks: assignment of judges, case management for the civil and criminal divisions, personnel matters, statistical reporting and analysis, technology matters, jury commission, fiscal oversight and adult probation and parole.

The administrative judge also sits on the First Judicial District’s Administrative Governing Board.

Herron was first elected to the bench in 1987, and has secured retention votes twice.

The jurist seems to have enjoyed his work in the Pennsylvania judiciary thus far. In a September story in the Legal Intelligencer newspaper, Herron was quoted as saying: “I love the court. I’m passionate about it. I’m passionate about the lawyers who practice in it.”

Herron also previously spent time in the city’s District Attorney’s Office, serving primarily as deputy district attorney for investigations. He has also served as chief disciplinary counsel for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Herron, who this year received the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award, is perhaps best known for establishing the First Judicial District’s Commerce Court, which was designed to streamline, and reduce the backlog of, business cases. The other city judge with whom Herron worked closely on business cases was the late Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Albert W. Sheppard, who passed away in September.

Herron is a graduate of Duke University and Dickinson Law School.

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