The Court of Common Pleas, located in downtown Pittsburgh, is a trial court of general jurisdiction. The four divisions of the court, Criminal, Civil, Family, and Orphans’, adjudicate a wide array of matters including criminal prosecutions, civil disputes involving money or property, child support, custody, dependency, adoptions, guardianships, appeals from judgments of the minor judiciary, and appeals from final orders of certain state and local government agencies.
The court has a complement of 43 commissioned judges who comprise the board of judges, and senior judges assigned among the court divisions. Each division of the court is presided over by an administrative judge appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The president judge, the executive head of the Court of Common Pleas, is elected to a five-year term of office by vote of the board of judges. The district court administrator, appointed by the president judge, serves as the chief administrative officer for the court.
The Minor Judiciary is the first level of courts in Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System. In Allegheny County, the minor judiciary is comprised of 46 magisterial districts and Pittsburgh Municipal Court. Magisterial district judges are governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Court promulgated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The president judge of the Court of Common Pleas exercises general supervisory and administrative authority over the magisterial district court system within Allegheny County, and each magisterial district court is presided over by an elected district judge. District judges have jurisdiction in the following matters: summary traffic and non-traffic cases, landlord/tenant matters, and civil claims not exceeding $12,000. They also conduct preliminary arraignments and preliminary hearings on misdemeanor and felony cases, issue arrest and search warrants, issue emergency protection from abuse orders, and have the authority to perform marriages.