The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has appointed Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge John W. Herron to a one-year term as the chairman of the Administrative Governing Board of the First Judicial District, the largest court system in the commonwealth.
Herron, who was recently named administrative judge of the trial division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, will begin his chairmanship on Jan. 1, 2012, according to a Supreme Court announcement.
The Administrative Governing Board is the coordinating board for the three courts comprising the First Judicial District; the Trial Division, the Family Division and the Orphans’ Division, according to the FJD’s website.
Herron takes over the AGB post from Pamela Pryor Dembe, the president judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The Supreme Court appoints the chairman or chairwoman of the AGB as per a 2000 restructuring order, according to the high court’s announcement.
According to an article in Wednesday’s Legal Intelligencer, the chairperson of the AGB typically has been the Common Pleas Court president judge, as was the case with Dembe.
With Herron’s appointment, however, that has shifted.
As chairman of the AGB, Herron will be tasked with overseeing the First Judicial District’s budget among other things, such as keeping a handle on ongoing judicial reforms.
Herron told the Legal Intelligencer Wednesday that in his new role, he will report directly to the Supreme Court and be responsible for the high court’s priorities with regard to the Philadelphia court system.
In his interview with the newspaper, Herron said as AGB chairman he would play a major role in judicial budgetary discussions.
“We’re actively discussing private counsel fees and conflict counsel,” he told the paper. “And there are a number of other areas where the court can be responsive to the city and ensure city funds are appropriately expended and husbanded to whatever extent possible.”
Herron was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month to serve as the new administrative judge of the trial division of Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, handling administrative matters for both the civil and criminal trial divisions.
Herron took over for Common Pleas Court Judge D. Webster Keogh.
Prior to that, Herron served as an Orphan’s Court judge for about a decade.
Herron was first elected to the bench in 1987, and has secured retention votes two times. He had previously spent time in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and as chief disciplinary counsel for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Two Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices, Seamus McCaffery and Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, hail from Philadelphia.