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THE COURTS

Title 201--RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

[201 PA. CODE CH. 1]

Adoption, Filing and Publishing of Rules

[26 Pa.B. 3124]

Introduction

   The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) is considering recommending that the Supreme Court rescind current Rule of Judicial Administration 103 (Procedures for Adoption, Filing and Publishing Rules), Rule of Civil Procedure 239 (Local Rules) and Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 (Local Rules) and replace them with new Rules of Judicial Administration 103.1 through 103.3 (Adoption, Filing and Publishing of Rules). Included in the proposal are changes which specify (1) the procedures for the adoption, publication and filing of both statewide and local rules; (2) the requirements for a valid and enforceable local rule of court; and (3) the schedule for the rescission of all existing local rules and the promulgation of new local rules.

   The following explanatory Report highlights the issues considered in formulating this proposal. Please note that the Supreme Court does not adopt the contents of an explanatory Report.

   The text of the proposed rules precedes the Report.

   Interested persons are encouraged to submit suggestions, comments or objections concerning this proposal to the Court Administrator of Pennsylvania, Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, 1515 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102, on or before Friday, October 18, 1996.

By The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

NANCY M. SOBOLEVITCH,   
Court Administrator of Pennsylvania

   Rule of Judicial Administration 103, Rule of Civil Procedure 239 and Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 are rescinded and replaced with the following:

Rules of Judicial Administration 103.1 through 103.3

ADOPTION, FILING AND PUBLISHING OF RULES

Introduction

   These Rules of Judicial Administration contain the rulemaking procedure for all components of the Unified Judicial System: the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Rule 103.1), the courts of common pleas and Philadelphia Municipal Court (Rules 103.2-1, 103.2-2 and 103.2-3) and all other courts, agencies and units of the system except the Court of Judicial Discipline and the Judicial Conduct Board (Rule 103.3).

   The Supreme Court's policy on local rulemaking is ''to implement the unified judicial system under the Constitution of 1968, to facilitate the statewide practice of law under this Court's general rules, and to promote the further policy that a general rule of procedure normally preempts the subject covered.'' Order No. 110 of January 28, 1983, Criminal Procedural Rules Docket No. 2.

   In accordance with this policy, local rules may not reiterate statewide rules or Acts of Assembly, or make it difficult for attorneys to practice in several counties. It is important to note that the caption or other words used as a label or designation do not determine whether something is a local rule. If the matter satisfies the definition in Rule 103.2-1, it is a local rule regardless of what it may be called.

   To ensure review and consolidation of existing local rules, and to eliminate rules which have become unnecessary or do not comply with these rules, Rule 103.2-2 requires that all local rules be reviewed by the court which promulgated them, that all local rules be rescinded and that only those local rules which the court determines to be necessary to be promulgated and published.

Annex A

TITLE 201.  RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 1.  GENERAL PROVISIONS

Rule 103.1.  Statewide Rules of the Supreme Court. Publication. Filing and Distribution.

   (a)  Except as provided in subdivision (c), the proposing rules committee shall submit to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin the initial recommendation of a proposed statewide rule or amendment to a rule, including the explanatory note or comment which may accompany it. The proposed rule or amendment as submitted for publication shall be prefaced by a statement inviting written comments which are to be sent directly to the proposing rules committee within a specified period of time.

   (b)  The proposing rules committee shall review all written communications received in response to the publication prior to the submission of the proposal to the Supreme Court. If after review of the communications the committee revises the proposal, it may submit the revised proposal for publication and comment as provided in subdivision (a).

   (c)  A proposed rule or amendment may be promulgated even though it has not been previously published in the manner required by subdivision (a) if

   (1)  exigent circumstances require immediate promulgation; or

   (2)  the proposed rule or amendment is of a typographical or perfunctory nature; or

   (3)  in the discretion of the Supreme Court, such action is required in the interests of justice or efficient administration.

   (d)  The Order of the Supreme Court promulgating a rule or amendment together with the rule or amendment shall be filed in the office of the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court.

   (e)  The Prothonotary shall distribute the Order and rule as follows:

   (1)  one certified copy to the publisher of the Pennsylvania State Reports who shall print it in the first available volume;

   (2)  two duplicate originals and a diskette in the required format containing the Order and rule, to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;

   (3)  one certified copy to the clerks and prothonotaries of all courts which may be affected thereby, who shall ensure that the Order and rule are made public in their judicial districts; and

   (4)  one certified copy to the proposing rule committee.

Rule 103.2-1.  Local Rules Adopted by Courts of Common Pleas or Philadelphia Municipal Court. Definition.

   The term ''local rule'' shall include but not be limited to every rule, regulation, directive, policy, practice, custom, usage, form or order of general application, however labeled or promulgated, which is adopted or enforced by a court of common pleas or Philadelphia Municipal Court to govern practice or procedure.

Rule 103.2-2.  Rescission and Promulgation of Local Rules Required.

   All local rules and related forms, existing as of the date of the Order of the Supreme Court promulgating this rule, shall be rescinded and new local rules and related forms shall be promulgated in accordance with Rule of Judicial Administration 103.2-3. All local rules and related forms which have not been promulgated as required by this rule will be rescinded by an order of the Supreme Court, one area of law at a time on the following schedule:

Rules of Administration, Business
of the Court, General Provisions
December 31, 1997
Criminal Procedural RulesDecember 31, 1998
Civil Procedural RulesDecember 31, 1999
Orphans' Court RulesDecember 31, 2000
Domestic Relations RulesDecember 31, 2001

Rule 103.2-3.  Local Rules. Requirements. Effective Date.

   (a)  To be valid and enforceable, a local rule

   (1)  shall be consistent with, but shall not repeat or paraphrase any statewide rule of the Supreme Court or any Act of Assembly;

   (2)  shall be in writing;

   (3)  shall be given a number that is keyed to the number of the statewide rule to which the local rule corresponds;

   (4)  shall be filed, together with the adopting order, with the prothonotary or clerk of the adopting court;

   (5)  shall not make it difficult for attorneys to practice in several counties; and

   (6)  shall be maintained as part of a consolidated set of all the local rules of court adopted and published in accordance with this rule.

   (i)  The consolidated set of local rules shall be kept available for public inspection in the office of the clerk or prothonotary of the court.

   (ii)  Upon request and payment of reasonable costs of reproduction and mailing, the prothonotary or clerk shall furnish to any person a copy of any local rule of that judicial district.

   (b)  A local rule shall not become effective and enforceable until the prothonotary or clerk of the adopting court has fully complied with the following requirements.

   (1)  The prothonotary or clerk shall mail a certified copy of the local rule and adopting order to the appropriate Supreme Court rules committee. Whenever it cannot be determined with rules committee is appropriate, the prothonotary or clerk shall send a copy to all the rules committees.

   (2)  No sooner than 60 days after mailing to the appropriate rules committee as provided in paragraph (b)(1), the prothonotary or clerk shall submit to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin

   (i)  two certified copies of the local rule and adopting order. The order shall include a certification, signed by the president judge or a judge formally designated by order of the president judge, that the order and local rule were mailed to the appropriate Supreme Court rules committee as required by paragraph (b)(1), and

   (ii)  a diskette in the required format containing the text of the order, the local rule, and the judge's certification.

   (c)  A local rule shall be effective no sooner than 30 days after the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

   (d)  The appropriate Supreme Court rules committee may at any time recommend that the Supreme Court suspend, vacate, or require amendment of a local rule, and may suspend the local rule pending action by the Court on that recommendation.

   (e)  Except as provided by Rule of Judicial Administration 1901 relating to the termination of inactive cases, no action or proceeding shall be dismissed for failure to comply with a local rule.

Rule 103.3.  Rules Adopted by All Other Courts, Agencies and Units of the Unified Judicial System.

   (a)  The term ''rule'' shall include but not be limited to every rule, regulation, directive, policy, practice, custom, usage, form or order of general application, however labeled or promulgated, which regulates practice or procedure before the adopting court, agency or unit, or otherwise has the effect of law but shall not include a general or local rule as set forth in Rules 103.1 and 103.2 or a rule of the Court of Judicial Discipline and the Judicial Conduct Board.

   (b)  To be valid and enforceable, a rule shall be in writing, and maintained as part of a consolidated set of all the rules of the court, agency or unit adopted and published in accordance with this rule. The consolidated set of rules shall be kept available for public inspection in the office of the clerk or prothonotary of the court, agency or unit. Upon request and payment of reasonable costs of reproduction and mailing, the prothonotary or clerk shall furnish to any person a copy of any rule which is part of that consolidated set.

   (c)  The prothonotary or clerk shall submit to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin two certified copies of the rule and adopting order and a diskette in the required format containing the text of the rule and adopting order.

   (d)  The Supreme Court may suspend, vacate, or require amendment of a rule adopted by a court, agency or unit.

Report

Proposal to Rescind Rule of Judicial Administration 103, Rule of Civil Procedure 239 and Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 and Adopt New Rules of Judicial Administration 103.1 through 103.3

Background

   Current Rule of Judicial Administration 103, Rule of Civil Procedure 239 and Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 establish the process by which the trial courts of Pennsylvania adopt local rules of court, a process recognized as necessary to the efficient administration of the various judicial districts. However, the ongoing proliferation of local rules and practices has made it increasingly difficult for lawyers to practice statewide, adding to the complexity and cost of litigation. Such proliferation also impedes the development of statewide judicial support systems.

Discussion

   AOPC has developed this proposal to rescind Rule of Judicial Administration 103, Rule of Civil Procedure 239 and Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 and adopt new Rules of Judicial Administration 103.1 through 103.3. Several provisions of the proposed new rules are of particular importance:

   (1)  103.2-3 defines the local rulemaking process, providing for submission of all proposed rules to the appropriate Supreme Court rules committee before publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;

   (2)  103.2-3 provides that a local rule shall be effective no sooner than 30 days after the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin; and

   (3)  to ensure review and consolidation of existing local rules and to eliminate rules which are unnecessary or do not comply with the Supreme Court's rules, 103.2-2 sets the schedule, one area of law at a time, by which all local rules and related forms shall be rescinded and new local rules and related forms promulgated.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 96-1087. Filed for public inspection July 5, 1996, 9:00 a.m.]



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