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Special Session A First For Pa. Superior Court Judges, County

READING, Pa. - The wheels of justice rolled out of Harrisburg for a special session on the road Tuesday.

Three Superior Court judges left their courtrooms in the Pennsylvania capital to hear cases in Reading.

It was a packed courtroom in the Berks County Courthouse. For the first time in county history, the state Superior Court is holding a special session in Reading.

"We worked out the details thanks to the Superior Court staff, my staff, and the Berks County Bar Association and it became a reality," said Berks County President Judge Jeffrey Schmehl.

Judges Jack Panella, Ann E. Lazarus, and Paula Francisco Ott stepped into the courtroom raring to get to work on the 45 cases they'll hear over the next couple days.

"We're reviewing what a trial court did, so it makes it more real to be in the setting where you're thinking about what happened at a lower court and whether what happened was correct," said Ott.

Each of the three judges has more than 10 years experience as a trial judge before being elected to the Superior Court.

Panella presided over civil and criminal cases for 12 years as a trial judge for the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County. 

Lazarus said the Superior Court deals with criminal, civil, and personal injury cases. The 15 judges who preside on the state court hear up to 8,000 cases each year.

"Each judge is responsible for somewhere between 350 and 400 cases, which means we are producing one opinion a week if not more," said Lazarus.

Court officials said the special session has been in the works for almost two years.

The session will be open to the public again on Wednesday.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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