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In re Order Amending Rules 120

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

April 6, 2017

IN RE: ORDER AMENDING RULES 120, 127, 140, 160, 166, 182, 185, 187, 190, 191, 192, 243, 512, 800, 1120, 1127, 1154, 1166, 1182, 1185, 1187, 1190, 1191, 1243, 1342, 1512, 1608, 1610, 1635, AND 1800 OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RULES OF JUVENILE COURT PROCEDURE

          ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         AND NOW, this 6th day of April, 2017, upon the recommendation of the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee, the proposal having been published for public comment at 42 Pa.B 5480 (August 25, 2012):

         IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Rules 120, 127, 140, 160, 166, 182, 185, 187, 190, 191, 192, 243, 512, 800, 1120, 1127, 1154, 1166, 1182, 1185, 1187, 1190, 1191, 1243, 1342, 1512, 1608, 1610, 1635, and 1800 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure are amended in the attached form.

         This ORDER shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective on September 1, 2017.

         JUVENILE COURT PROCEDURAL RULES COMMITTEE FINAL REPORT[1]

         AMENDMENT OF Pa.R.J.C.P. 120, 127, 140, 160, 166, 182, 185, 187, 190, 191, 192, 243, 512, 800, 1120, 1127, 1154, 1166, 1182, 1185, 1187, 1190, 1191, 1243, 1342, 1512, 1608, 1610, 1635, and 1800

         On April 6, 2017, the Court amended the Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure to change the term "master" to "juvenile court hearing officer."

         The term "master" was incorporated into the Rules from the Juvenile Act. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq. The continued use of the term "master" had been rejected by several judicial districts because it was considered archaic, subject to misperception, and inconsistent with the use of "hearing officer" in other proceedings. Accordingly, in some judicial districts the title of "master" had been updated to "hearing officer, " which more accurately reflects the authority to preside over delinquency and dependency matters. The Committee deliberated on the merits of this local practice and agreed that "master" should be updated to the more modern phrase of "hearing officer" within the Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure.

         A proposal was published for public comment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin at 42 Pa.B 5480 (August 25, 2012) to replace "master" with "hearing officer." In response to a comment and to differentiate among the different types of hearing officers in other proceedings, a post-publication modification to the proposal expanded the title from "hearing officer" to "juvenile court hearing officer."

         RULES OF JUVENILE COURT PROCEDURE DELINQUENCY MATTERS

         PART D [MASTERS] JUVENILE COURT HEARING OFFICERS

         182. Qualifications of [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         185. Appointment to Cases

         187. Authority of [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         190. Admissions Before [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         191. [Master's]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer's Findings and Recommendation to the Judge

         192. Challenge to [Master's]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer's Recommendation

         DEPENDENCY MATTERS

         PART D [MASTERS]JUVENILE COURT HEARING OFFICERS

         182. Qualifications of [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         1185. Appointment to Cases

         1187. Authority of [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         1190. Stipulations Before [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         1191. [Master's]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer's Findings and Recommendation to the Judge

         RULE 120. DEFINITIONS

         COURT is the Court of Common Pleas, a court of record, which is assigned to hear juvenile delinquency matters. Court shall include [masters]juvenile court hearing officers when they are permitted to hear cases under these rules and magisterial district judges when issuing an arrest warrant pursuant to Rule 210. Juvenile Court shall have the same meaning as Court.

         JUVENILE is a person who has attained ten years of age and is not yet twenty-one years of age who is alleged to have, upon or after the juvenile's tenth birthday, committed a delinquent act before reaching eighteen years of age or who is alleged to have violated the terms of juvenile probation prior to termination of juvenile court supervision.

         JUVENILE COURT HEARING OFFICER is an attorney with delegated authority to preside over and make recommendations for delinquency matters. Juvenile court hearing officer has the same meaning as master as used pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq.

         [MASTER is an attorney with delegated authority to hear and make recommendations for juvenile delinquency matters. Master has the same meaning as hearing officer.]

         COMMENT

         Under the term "court, " to determine if [masters]juvenile court hearing officers are permitted to hear cases, see Rule 187. See Rule 210 for the power of magisterial district judges to issue arrest warrants.

         The term "judge" refers to a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, including senior judges when they are properly certified. It does not include [masters]juvenile court hearing officers or magisterial district judges. Magisterial district judges, however, are included within the definition of "court" when they have the power to issue arrest warrants pursuant to Rule 210. See discussion supra under definition of "court." Arrest warrants are distinguished from bench warrants pursuant to Rules 140 and 141. Only judges of the Court of Common Pleas may issue bench warrants if the juvenile: 1) fails to appear at a hearing; or 2) absconds from the court's supervision.

         Official Note:

         Amended April 6, 2017, effective September 1, 2017.

         Committee Explanatory Reports:

         Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 120 published with the Court's Order at - Pa.B. - (-).

         RULE 127. RECORDING AND TRANSCRIBING JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS

         A. Recording. There shall be a recording of all juvenile delinquency proceedings, including proceedings conducted by [masters]juvenile court hearing officers, except as provided in Rule 242(B)(2).

         COMMENT

         The rule is intended to apply to all juvenile delinquency proceedings and to ensure all proceedings are recorded, including proceedings before [masters]juvenile court hearing officers, with the exception of detention hearings.

         Official Note:

         Amended April 6, 2017, effective September 1, 2017.

         Committee Explanatory Reports:

         Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 127 published with the Court's Order at - Pa.B. - (-).

         RULE 140 . BENCH WARRANTS FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR AT HEARINGS

         C. Juvenile.

         1) Where to take the juvenile.

a) When a juvenile is taken into custody pursuant to a bench warrant, the juvenile shall be taken without unnecessary delay to the judge who issued the warrant or a judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge to hear bench warrants.
b) If the juvenile is not brought before a judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer, the juvenile shall be released unless:

         2) Prompt hearing.

a) If a juvenile is detained, the juvenile shall be brought before the judge who issued the warrant, a judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge to hear bench warrants, or an out-of-county judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer pursuant to paragraph (C)(4) within seventy-two hours.
b) If the juvenile is not brought before a judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer within this time, the juvenile shall be released.

         4) Out-of-county custody.

c) If transportation cannot be arranged immediately, then the juvenile shall be taken without unnecessary delay to a judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer of the county where the juvenile is found.
d) The judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer will identify the juvenile as the subject of the warrant, decide whether detention is warranted, and order or recommend that arrangements be made to transport the juvenile to the county of issuance.

         D. Witnesses.

         1) Where to take the witness.

a) When a witness is taken into custody pursuant to a bench warrant, the witness shall be taken without unnecessary delay to the judge who issued the warrant or a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge to hear bench warrants.
b) If the witness is not brought before a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer, the witness shall be released unless the warrant specifically orders detention of the witness.
c) A motion for detention as a witness may be filed anytime before or after the issuance of a bench warrant. The judge may order or the [master] juvenile court hearing officer may recommend detention of the witness pending a hearing.

         2) Prompt hearing.

a) If a witness is detained pursuant to paragraph (D)(1)(c) or brought back to the county of issuance pursuant to paragraph (D)(4)(f), the witness shall be brought before the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer by the next business day.
b) If the witness is not brought before a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer within this time, the witness shall be released.

         4) Out-of-county custody.

b) The witness shall be taken without unnecessary delay and within the next business day to a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer of the county where the witness is found.
c) The judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer will identify the witness as the subject of the warrant, decide whether detention as a witness is warranted, and order or recommend that arrangements be made to transport the witness to the county of issuance.

         F. Return & execution of the warrant for juveniles and witnesses.

         2) The bench warrant shall be returned to the judge who issued the warrant or to the judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge to hear bench warrants.

         COMMENT

         Pursuant to paragraph (C)(1)(a), the juvenile is to be taken immediately to the judge who issued the bench warrant or a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge of that county to hear bench warrants. This provision allows the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer the discretion to postpone a hearing, for example, the adjudicatory hearing, until later in the same day while the police officer, sheriff, or juvenile probation officer retrieves the juvenile. If taken into custody on the same day, the juvenile is to be brought immediately before the court for the hearing. However, pursuant to paragraph (C)(1)(b), if a bench warrant specifically provides that the juvenile may be detained in a detention facility, or there are circumstances apparent at the time of the surrender or apprehension that merit detention of the juvenile, the juvenile may be detained without having to be brought before the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer until a hearing within seventy-two hours under paragraph (C)(2)(a). The juvenile is not to languish in a detention facility. Pursuant to this paragraph, if a hearing is not held promptly, the juvenile is to be released. See paragraph (C)(2)(b).

         At the seventy-two hour hearing, the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer may determine that the juvenile willfully failed to appear and may continue the detention of the juvenile until the rescheduled hearing. If the juvenile is detained, the rescheduled hearing is governed by the time requirements provided elsewhere in these rules. See Rules 240, 391, 404, 510 and 605.

         Under paragraphs (C)(2) and (C)(4), a juvenile taken into custody pursuant to a bench warrant is to have a hearing within seventy-two hours regardless of where the juvenile is found. See Rule 240(C).

         Pursuant to paragraph (D)(1)(a), the witness is to be taken immediately to the judge who issued the bench warrant or a judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge of that county to hear bench warrants. This provision allows the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer the discretion to postpone a hearing, for example, an adjudicatory hearing, until later in the same day while the police officer, sheriff, or juvenile probation officer retrieves the witness. The witness is to be brought immediately before the court for the hearing. However, pursuant to paragraph (D)(1)(b), if the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer is not available, the witness is to be released immediately unless the warrant specifically orders detention. Pursuant to paragraph (D)(1)(c), a motion for detention as a witness may be filed. If the witness is detained, a prompt hearing pursuant to paragraph (D)(2) is to be held by the next business day or the witness is to be released. See paragraph (D)(2)(b).

         At the hearing pursuant to paragraph (D)(2)(a), the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer may determine that the witness willfully failed to appear and find or recommend that the witness is in contempt of court, or that the witness is in need of protective custody. If the judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer has made one of these findings, the judge may continue the detention of the witness until the rescheduled hearing. The judge or [master] juvenile court hearing officer should schedule the hearing as soon as possible. In any event, if the witness is detained, the rescheduled hearing must be conducted by the specific time requirements provided elsewhere in these rules. See Rules 240, 391, 404, 510 and 605.

         Pursuant to paragraph (D)(4)(b), a witness is to be brought before an out-of-county judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer by the next business day unless the witness can be brought before the judge who issued the bench warrant within this time. When the witness is transported back to the county of issuance within seventy-two hours of the execution of the bench warrant, the witness is to be brought before the court by the next business day. See paragraph (D)(4)(f).

         Pursuant to paragraph (F)(2), the bench warrant is to be returned to the judge who issued the warrant or to the judge or [master]juvenile court hearing officer designated by the President Judge to hear warrants by the arresting officer executing a return of warrant. See paragraph (F)(3).

         If there is a bench warrant issued, [masters] juvenile court hearing officers may hear cases in which the petition alleges only misdemeanors. See Rule 187(A)(2) and (3). The purpose of the hearing for juveniles pursuant to paragraph (C)(2)(a) or the hearing for witnesses pursuant to paragraph (D)(2)(a) is to determine if the juvenile or witness willfully failed to appear and if continued detention is necessary.

         Pursuant to Rule 191, the [master] juvenile court hearing officer is to submit his or her findings and recommendation to the court. In bench warrant cases, the [master] juvenile court hearing officer should immediately take his or her recommendation to the judge so the judge can make the final determination of whether the juvenile or witness should be released. See Rule 191(C).

         If the findings and recommendation are not taken immediately to the judge, the [master] juvenile court hearing officer is to submit the recommendation within one business day. See Rule 191(B).

         Official Note:

         Amended April 6, 2017, effective September 1, 2017.

         Committee Explanatory Reports:

         Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 140 published with the Court's Order at - Pa.B. - (-).

         RULE 160. INSPECTING, COPYING, AND DISSEMINATING THE OFFICIAL COURT RECORD

         A. Inspecting. The official court record is only open to inspection by:

1) the judges, [masters] juvenile court hearing officers, juvenile probation officers, and staff of the court;

         Official Note:

         Amended April 6, 2017, effective September 1, 2017.

         Committee Explanatory Reports:

         Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 160 published with the Court's Order at - Pa.B. - (-).

         RULE 166. MAINTAINING RECORDS IN THE CLERK OF COURTS

         COMMENT

         The list of docket entries is a running record of all information related to any action in a juvenile case in the court of common pleas of the clerk's county, such as dates of filings, of orders, and of court proceedings, including hearings conducted by [masters] juvenile court hearing officers. Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude the use of automated or other electronic means for timestamping or making docket entries.

         This rule applies to all proceedings in the court of common pleas, including hearings conducted by [masters]juvenile court hearing officers, at any stage of the delinquency case.

         Official Note:

         Amended April 6, 2017, effective September 1, 2017.

         Committee Explanatory Reports:

         Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 166 published with the Court's Order at - Pa.B. - (-).

         PART D [MASTER]JUVENILE COURT HEARING OFFICER

         182. Qualifications of [Master]Juvenile Court Hearing Officer

         185. Appointment to Cases

         187. Authority of [Master] Juvenile ...


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