Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania



Criminal Division Procedures
(certain in-person hearings to resume September 8, 2020)


Procedural Information
Additional Courtroom Procedures
Formal Arraignment Waiver
In-Person Proceedings
ARD Procedures
Phoenix Court Procedures
Case Status Conferences (CSC)
Designated Staff to Receive CSC Emails for Each Courtroom
Remote Pleas
Miscellaneous Motions
Criminal Division Forms


Additional Courtroom Procedures

Participants Who Cannot Be Heard Clearly While Wearing Masks
  • Paper masks will be provided in each courtroom where the judge determines that a witness, defendant or other participant cannot be heard or understood while wearing a cloth or other mask.
  • The judge may permit a witness to temporarily remove a mask to take testimony where the presence of a mask would adversely affect the ability to evaluate credibility. In such cases, the witness will be required to wear a face shield.
  • A participant shall not be asked to lower or remove their mask at any time while they are within 15 feet of another person unless protected by a plexiglass partition.
Private Attorney/Client Communication in Courtroom
  • During any hearing requiring a witness, the defendant, defense counsel, prosecutor, and affiant will each be provided with paper and a pen (if consistent with safety concerns of the Court, Deputy Sheriff and attorneys) and will be permitted to write confidential notes to each other. The court may permit other means of confidential communication including providing for brief recesses or allowing the defendant and attorney to briefly exit the courtroom to confer consistent with safety concerns.
Early arrival for court proceedings
  • Attorneys and witnesses arriving more than 30 minutes prior to a scheduled court event may be asked by the Court to leave and return later in order to maintain social distancing and reduce the amount of people in the courtroom at any given time.
Signing of Subpoenas
  • Alternative methods of signing should be used to avoid contact between court staff and defendants.
Document Transfer
  • All efforts shall be made to transfer as many documents as possible to court staff electronically. When a physical document must be provided to court staff in a courtroom, it shall be done, whenever possible, by placing the document on a table provided for the exchange rather than by a direct hand- to-hand exchange.



Formal Arraignment Waiver

The following steps must be taken by defense counsel to waive appearance at Formal Arraignment during the judicial emergency:

  • Defense counsel must enter their Appearance on behalf of the Defendant.
  • After the Praecipe for Appearance has been filed with the Department of Court Records, defense counsel may download and complete the Waiver of Appearance at Formal Arraignment form.
  • Once completed, the Waiver of Appearance at Formal Arraignment form must be forwarded to ccformalarraignment@alleghenycourts.us.
  • The email must include defense counsel and the defendant’s phone number, email address, and mailing address.
  • The Formal Arraignment Office will review the waiver request and determine if the Criminal Information has been filed by the District Attorney’s Office.
  • If the Criminal Information has been filed, the Formal Arraignment Office will email the attorney of record the information and all paperwork along with the judge assignment and a subpoena for the Defendant to appear on the scheduled Pretrial Conference date or Phoenix Court date. When required, a Court Reporting Network (CRN) appointment will be included in the paperwork; the defendant shall attend the scheduled CRN appointment and complete the full drug/alcohol assessment, if required, prior to the scheduled court date.
  • If the case is eligible for ARD, information will be provided to defense counsel to contact the District Attorney’s ARD unit and complete the ARD interview. Upon receipt of the ARD paperwork from defense counsel showing that the defendant has been accepted into the ARD program, the Formal Arraignment Office will provide an ARD date and subpoena to defense counsel via email.
  • If the Criminal Information has not been filed, the Formal Arraignment Office will reschedule the Formal Arraignment date and notify defense counsel of the new date.
  • Defense Counsel will sign the subpoena on the defendant’s behalf with the defendant’s permission or will make arrangements for the defendant to sign the subpoena and return it to the Formal Arraignment Office by email.
  • Pretrial Conferences for defendants should be conducted by email, telephone, or videoconferencing, but may be conducted in person.
  • Defense counsel may accept a subpoena on a defendant’s behalf by completing a Waiver of Appearance at Formal Arraignment form.
  • Defendants without an attorney must appear in person to schedule their cases, unless other arrangements have been made by court staff, in which case the Pretrial Conferences may be conducted by telephone or videoconferencing



In-Person Proceedings
  • Attorneys shall confer with their witnesses and clients prior to the hearing date to ensure that they are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and are not awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or awaiting a test result are not permitted in any court facility. Information on appropriate actions to take when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can be found on the CDC website.
  • Attorneys shall notify the Court of any witness or client exhibiting symptoms or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Arrangements shall be made for the person to participate remotely or the matter shall be postponed.
  • Taking the testimony of witnesses through Microsoft Teams is strongly encouraged. However, when a witness must testify in person in a courtroom, attorneys will be responsible for management of their witnesses.
  • Witnesses may be required to wait in designated areas of the Courthouse, outside the Courthouse or elsewhere so that social distancing may be maintained and to reduce the amount of people in the courtroom at any time.
  • Witnesses who wait in the hallways may not congregate and must socially distance.
  • Attorneys shall inform the Court of the status and location of their witnesses prior to the start of a proceeding so that the attorneys may be given adequate time to notify and call each witness to testify. Upon conclusion of the testimony, the witness shall be excused from the courtroom and shall leave the court facility unless the judge or judicial officer determines that there is a reason that the witness must remain in the court facility.
  • The taking of photographs or the recording of any proceeding is strictly prohibited. Anyone violating this provision shall forfeit their cellular phone or device and shall be subject to contempt proceedings or other sanctions. Notwithstanding, with the permission of the presiding judge, an attorney may use a cellular telephone to summon a witness waiting in another location or for such other purpose authorized by the judge. When a judge is on the bench, the attorney shall first request permission from the judge.



ARD Procedures
  • After the defendant completes the ARD interview and accepts the ARD offer, the defendant will receive a subpoena from the Court Arraignment Office with the hearing date and time noted.
  • ARD Court staff will email defense counsel (or the defendant, if not represented) the ARD Packet with instructions to complete it and return it at least 7 days prior to the ARD hearing date.
  • ARD Court staff will email an invitation for the Microsoft Teams ARD Hearing to both the Defendant and Defense Counsel the week of the ARD hearing.
  • The ARD Hearing and Admission into the ARD program will take place as scheduled through Microsoft Teams.
  • Upon the conclusion of the ARD Hearing on Microsoft Teams, the ARD Officer and defendants will remain on the Teams call so that the ARD Officer may review the ARD rules with the defendants.
  • ARD Probation either will complete the intake interview at the conclusion of the ARD TEAMS hearing or will contact the defendant approximately one week after the hearing. If a defendant has not had an intake interview within 14 days of the ARD hearing, please contact the ARD office at 412-350-4632.



Phoenix Court Procedures
  • On all Phoenix cases a full discovery packet, sentencing guidelines and offer are presented to the Defendant at the time of Formal Arraignment.
  • The Phoenix Hearing will be conducted remotely through Advanced Communication Technology primarily through Microsoft Teams unless extenuating circumstances exist that justify an in-person proceeding.
  • The Remote Plea Packet should be completed and sent to the assigned courtroom staff four (4) business days before the assigned court date. The protocol during the Plea Hearing via remote access will also be followed.
  • If the Phoenix Offer is rejected, a Rejection of Phoenix Offer and Election to Proceed to Trial form must be completed and filed with the Court.
  • A trial date will then be set by the Court and the Case Status Conference protocol must be then followed.



Case Status Conferences (CSC)

All attorneys will be required to engage in an audio and/or video case status conference with opposing counsel in every case at least one week prior to the next scheduled court date during which the following matters must be addressed:

  • Whether any plea offers have been made; all plea negotiations must occur before the CSC deadline;
  • If a plea offer has been made and the defendant intends to reject the plea offer and proceed to trial, the rejection of the offer shall be placed on the record. The court, in its discretion, may notify the defendant that, once the plea is rejected and the case is scheduled for trial, the Court will no longer accept a negotiated plea;
  • If a plea offer will not be made, a determination will be made as to whether the case is ready to proceed to jury or nonjury trial. If the parties are not prepared to proceed, a postponement request must be submitted electronically via the Electronic Motion for Continuance Submission Tool at least four (4) business days before the next court date. Postponement requests submitted in this fashion will be granted or denied by the end of the next business day after submission.

After the CSC is complete, but in no event later than 4 business days before the next court listing, the Prosecutor shall submit an email to the minute clerk and the designated court staff for each courtroom, with a copy to defense counsel, which shall include the following:

  • Defendant’s name,
  • Date of proceeding,
  • Attorneys’ names and email addresses (prosecution and defense),
  • Defendant’s contact information, including their email address if the proceeding is to take place remotely,
  • Whether the case will resolve by plea, nonjury or jury trial or whether a postponement request will be submitted and by whom;
  • Whether any motions are pending and, if so, whether any such motion requires a hearing with or without witnesses;
  • Whether the defendant and witnesses and victims necessary for the scheduled proceeding have been contacted.

Counsel shall not send multiple CSC emails on the same case as such emails burden the court staff, overwhelm their email accounts and create confusion.

When a matter is scheduled as a remote plea or hearing, all paperwork shall be emailed to court staff 48 hours prior to the scheduled plea or hearing date, or, in the case of a defendant who is incarcerated, 24 hours prior to the plea or hearing date including:

  • Plea Packet
  • Sentencing Guidelines
  • Restitution Form
  • Other forms required for SORNA or Domestic Violence cases

If a case will be proceeding to trial, the parties are encouraged to stipulate to any evidence or testimony, where possible, to avoid the need for witnesses to be called to testify. If stipulations may be furthered by a party making a potential witness available via conference call with all counsel, counsel are encouraged to utilize this method or other similar opportunities to further discussions regarding possible stipulations. Where stipulations cannot be reached regarding the testimony of a witness, the parties should discuss whether any witnesses might be permitted to testify via video.

In a matter which is to proceed remotely, exhibits should be exchanged via email between the parties at least 24 hours prior to the proceeding, with a copy to court staff. If a party believes that circumstances exist that a prior exchange of a particular exhibit should not occur, the issue should be brought to the Court’s attention though the Case Status Conference process.

When a defense attorney has been unable to contact the defendant, the Prosecutor shall not bring in any witnesses but shall have them available by phone in the event that a previously “unreachable” defendant appears and determines to enter a guilty plea.

If the defendant then fails to appear on their scheduled court date, a warrant shall be issued.

If the defendant does appear on their scheduled date, the courtroom staff should direct the defendant to the location previously supplied by defense counsel so that the defendant can make contact with defense counsel. The case may proceed in a manner that does not require witnesses such as a plea, or a stipulated non-jury trial, or other method agreed upon by the parties. Otherwise, a short defense postponement may be granted with a definite date for trial.

Prosecutors shall make every effort to contact their witnesses well in advance of the scheduled court date and shall comply with the requirements of the Case Status Conferences or status conferences held by judges and their staff.

When a Prosecutor has been unable to contact a witness or victim, the prosecutor shall include on any postponement request, the efforts made to contact the witness or victim.

If a Commonwealth postponement is not granted, defense counsel shall not bring in any witnesses but shall have the defendant available by phone in the event the Commonwealth witness or victim does appear for the proceeding on the specified date.

In the event the Commonwealth witnesses do not appear on the scheduled court date, the case may be nolle prossed, dismissed or, at the discretion of the judge, a postponement may be granted on that date.

If the Commonwealth witness or victim does appear on the scheduled court date, the case may proceed in a manner that does not require witnesses such as a plea, stipulated non-jury trial, or other method agreed upon by the parties. Otherwise, a short Commonwealth postponement shall be granted with a definite date for trial.

All defendants without counsel will be required to engage in a CSC with the assigned prosecutor consistent with the above procedures. Prior to the CSC, the assigned prosecutor will notify the Office of the Public Defender that the defendant is unrepresented so that the defendant can be provided counsel from the Office of the Public Defender or the Office of Conflict Counsel to explain the following:

  • The right to counsel for future court proceedings;
  • The right to have counsel appointed if the defendant is unable to afford an attorney; and
  • If the defendant elects to proceed pro se, the fact that counsel will serve as a third-party witness to ensure the CSC is fairly conducted.



Designated Staff to Receive CSC Emails for Each Courtroom

JUDGE ADDITIONAL STAFF EMAIL MINUTE CLERK EMAIL
Bruce R. Beemer Diana Colosimo DColosimo@alleghenycourts.us Janine McVay McVayJ@alleghenycourts.us
Alexander P. Bicket Carley Donnelly CDonnelly@alleghenycourts.us Kathy Burford KBurford@alleghenycourts.us
Kelly E. Bigley Teri Michaels TMichaels@alleghenycourts.us John D'Abruzzo J'DAbruzzo@alleghenycourts.us
Edward J. Borkowski Pamela Farrell Pam.Farrell@alleghenycourts.us John Halloran

John Matter - ARD
John.Halloran@alleghenycourts.us
JMatter@alleghenycourts.us
David R. Cashman Wendy Hayes Wendy.Hayes@alleghenycourts.us Derek Smith DJSmith@alleghenycourts.us
John J. Driscoll Mary Angela Ogg MOgg@alleghenycourts.us Lindsay Williamson LWilliamson@alleghenycourts.us
Susan F. Evashavik DiLucente Mary Lou Conroy mlconroy@alleghenycourts.us Dan Cregan DCregan@alleghenycourts.us
Thomas E. Flaherty Sarah Deasy SDeasy@alleghenycourts.us Karen Cirrincione Karen.Cirrincione@alleghenycourts.us
Beth A. Lazzara Judy Sarna (Law Clerk) jsarna@alleghenycourts.us Tim Palmer TPalmer@alleghenycourts.us
Jeffrey A. Manning Sandy Leasure Sandy.Leasure@alleghenycourts.us Michele Kearney MKearney@alleghenycourts.us
Anthony M. Mariani Christen Hobaugh CHobaugh@alleghenycourts.us Christa Buchewicz CBuchewicz@alleghenycourts.us
Lester G. Nauhaus Lucille Trobaugh LTrohaugh@alleghenycourts.us Sandy Evans Sandy.Evans@alleghenycourts.us
Jill E. Rangos Shana Kemerer SKemerer@alleghenycourts.us Laura Gettings LGettings@alleghenycourts.us
Kevin G. Sasinoski Stephanie Ewing SEwing@alleghenycourts.us Candice Kelly CKelly@alleghenycourts.us
Randall B. Todd Gwyn Behr GBehr@alleghenycourts.us Elizabeth Collins ECollins@alleghenycourts.us
Mark V. Tranquilli Mary Angela Ogg MOgg@alleghenycourts.us Lindsay Williamson LWilliamson@alleghenycourts.us
John A. Zottola Marie Zottola MZottola@alleghenycourts.us Toni Snelsire TSnelsire@alleghenycourts.us



Remote Pleas

When a matter is scheduled as a remote plea or hearing, all paperwork shall be emailed to court staff 48 hours prior to the scheduled plea or hearing date, or, in the case of a defendant who is incarcerated, 24 hours prior to the plea or hearing date.

If the case will be a plea, the following paperwork should be included:

  • Request for Remote Hearing *
  • Instructions for Scheduling a Remote Plea *
  • Guilty Plea Colloquy *
  • Waiver of Rights and Consent to Plea/Sentencing by Video Conference *
  • Adult Probation Intake Form *
  • General Rules and Condition of Probation Acknowledgement Form *
  • Sentencing Guidelines
  • Restitution Form

*Denotes items included in the Plea Packet.


If the case is a Domestic Violence case, include also:


If the case is a SORNA case, include also:

  • Specific Special Conditions of Probation
  • General Rules and Condition of Probation Acknowledgement Form
  • Sexual Offender Registration/Notification Act (SORNA) Colloquy

The SORNA Packet includes these 3 forms as well as all of the forms in the Plea Packet denoted by * above.




Miscellaneous Motions

Updated instructions and forms for filing Miscellaneous Motions in Motions Court can be found here.




Criminal Division Forms

Waiver of Appearance at Formal Arraignment

Waiver of Appearance at Pretrial Conference

Plea Packet – includes:

  • Request for Remote Hearing
  • Instructions for Scheduling a Remote Plea
  • Guilty Plea Colloquy
  • Waiver of Rights and Consent to Plea/Sentencing by Video Conference
  • Adult Probation Intake Form
  • General Rules and Condition of Probation Acknowledgement Form

ARD Packet – includes:

  • Instructions for Scheduling a Remote ARD Hearing
  • Explanation of ARD Proceeding
  • Waiver of Rights and Consent to Entry into ARD by Video Conference
  • PAePay Instructions
  • General Rules for ARD Probationers

SORNA Plea Packet – includes:

  • Request for Remote Hearing
  • Instructions for Scheduling a Remote Plea
  • Guilty Plea Colloquy
  • Waiver of Rights and Consent to Plea/Sentencing by Video Conference
  • Charge Specific Special Conditions of Probation
  • Adult Probation Intake Form
  • General Rules and Condition of Probation Acknowledgement Form
  • Sexual Offender Registration/Notification Act (SORNA) Colloquy

Order of Relinquishment (for Domestic Violence Cases)

Nolo Contendere Colloquy

Guilty Plea Colloquy

Waiver of Rights and Consent to Plea/Sentencing by Video Conference

Waiver of Rights and Consent to Non-Jury by Video Conference

Waiver of Jury Trial

Waiver of Counsel