York County, Pa. Common Pleas Court judge collapses at courthouse, later dies

By Jon Campisi | Nov 25, 2011

A Common Pleas Court judge from York County, Pa., who was credited with being the first black jurist on the county bench, died Monday shortly after collapsing outside of the county courthouse, according to news reports.

The Associated Press reported that 62-year-old Clarence N. “Chuck” Patterson, Jr., of York, who had been a common please judge since January 2010 after more than two decades serving as a prosecutor in the county district attorney’s office, died after what the county coroner determined to be a sudden cardiac event.

According to an article Tuesday in the York Dispatch, Patterson was taken to York Hospital after collapsing at the rear of the courthouse at about noon, where he was pronounced dead a little more than a half-hour later.

The newspaper reported that two sheriff’s deputies trained in emergency medicine performed CPR on Patterson until an ambulance arrived to transport the judge to the hospital.

In a statement picked up by the Associated Press and the York Dispatch, Common Pleas Court President Judge Stephen Linebaugh said the death was a tragic loss for York County and its judiciary.

“Judge Patterson was an excellent judge and a wonderful person,” Linebaugh told the AP. “In his short tenure on the bench he made an indelible impact on the lives of the many children ad juveniles who came before him.”

Patterson had been assigned to the court’s family division at the time of his death.

Those outside of the judicial branch also appear to be affected by the loss of the jurist.

“It’s a loss beyond measure,” Stan Rebert, York County’s former district attorney, told the York Dispatch. “I guess the only consolation we have at this point is that he reached the peak of his career when he did and was able to enjoy it, at least briefly … I was so proud.”

While his election to the bench was significant in that he was known as the first African American judge in York County, located in south-central Pennsylvania, Patterson, while appreciative of the significance of his election, wanted to be known for other things, the AP reported.

“While I’m proud of my heritage, my ultimate goal is to be the best judge I can be,” Patterson had told the York Dispatch shortly after his election in November 2009, according to the Associated Press article.

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