The Judges of the Civil Division are responsible for handling all civil matters, as well as family and orphans' court matters. The judges work within the framework of an individual calendar system. This system provides the judges with the needed flexibility to schedule matters tailored to the specific requirements of the case. A key focus of the Court is to adhere to the standard of timely justice for the citizens of Lehigh County and to ensure the best use of court resources. Each judge is responsible for his or her inventory of cases from the filing of the complaint through disposition of the case.
The Civil Operations Officer reviews new cases filed in the Office of the Clerk of Judicial Records - Civil Division every week. Civil cases initiated by complaint, which are not subject to compulsory arbitration, are assigned to an individual judge and are placed in that judge's active civil case inventory. Miscellaneous civil matters not assigned to a judge are handled during Family Motion/Miscellaneous Court weeks by the judge on duty that week.
Continuance requests for any matter scheduled before the court or a board of arbitrators must be submitted on a Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County Continuance Application form, which may be found online or obtained from the Court Administrator's office. The form must be signed by all counsel/parties and must reflect the opposing party's position along with his/her signature.
When requesting a continuance of an arbitration hearing, a new scheduling date is required before submitting the form to the Judge. The applying party must contact the Court Administrator's office to obtain a new scheduling date, which date must be agreed upon by all counsel/parties before submitting the continuance request. Fax copies of completed Continuance Application forms will be accepted.
Motions and petitions for cases assigned to a judge may be filed by mail or in person. When filing a motion or a response to a motion, the original motion/response, brief and certification of service must be filed with the Clerk of Judicial Records - Civil Division. A time stamped copy must be sent to the Court Administrator's Office along with an original proposed order granting or denying the relief requested. It is not necessary to send a courtesy copy to the judge.
Responses to motions and petitions must be filed within 20 days from service of the motion, except for responses to summary judgment motions, which must be filed within 30 days, and petitions to withdraw as counsel, which must be filed within 10 days. Please refer to LC.R.C.P. 208.3(a) and 208.3(b).
Uncontested or simple motions not requiring a brief, matters certified as uncontested or stipulations may be presented in person to the assigned judge during that judge's weekly motions court provided that five days prior written notice has been given to the opposing side. If all parties consent, these motions may be presented with less than five days notice.
The weekdays and times of the civil judges are as follows:
It is recommended that counsel confirm with Judge's chambers that the judge is sitting for motions on the date counsel wishes to appear.
|Judge McGinley||Thursday||9:30 am||2A|
|Judge Reibman||Friday||9:00 am||1A (Old Courthouse)|
|Judge Johnson||Tuesday||9:00 am||5C|
|Judge Varricchio||Monday||9:00 am||1B (Old Courthouse)|
|Judge Reichley||Wednesday||9:00 am||5A|
|Judge McCarthy||Thursday||9:00 am||5B|
The Civil Judges instituted a court supervised Lawyer Mediation Program, using attorneys who volunteer their time to hold settlement conferences on trial ready cases. Appointment of attorneys for this program is done at the discretion of the judges of the Civil Court Division. A judge may assign any of his cases to a mediator, or counsel may request such an appointment. Notification of this appointment is sent to all parties by the Civil Operations Officer along with a Court approved reporting form. The date, time and location for the conference is at the discretion of the mediator. After the conference, the mediator submits a completed report to the assigned judge.
Cases filed in which the amount in dispute is $50,000 or less and Magisterial District Judge appeals are submitted to compulsory arbitration. New case filings reported weekly are reviewed by the Civil Operations Officer. Early identification of arbitration cases provides for timely disposition of these matters. Arbitration cases are randomly assigned to one of the civil judges for monitoring of the case and handling of all motions and petitions. After arbitration, if an appeal is filed, the case becomes part of the monitoring judge's active inventory.
Attorneys who wish to serve as an arbitrator must meet certain eligibility requirements. They must: be a member of the Bar of Lehigh County; have an office within Lehigh County, express a willingness to serve and submit their name to the Court Administrator. Assignment to a permanent panel is with the approval of the Arbitration Administrative Judge.
The Arbitration Coordinator schedules cases for arbitration. Magisterial District Judge appeals are listed on the first available list 60 days after the appeal is taken. All other matters are listed for hearing no later than one year after the complaint is filed.
A case may be scheduled for arbitration upon praecipe of any party. Counsel must serve the opposing side with a notice of intent to praecipe. If additional discovery is needed, the responding party must notify counsel within 20 days of the nature of discovery desired. The discovery must be completed within 120 days, after which a party may praecipe the case for arbitration. If no discovery is requested within 20 days, counsel may praecipe the case for arbitration.
Arbitration hearings are listed for 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on days assigned by the court and are held at the Office of the Bar Association of Lehigh County at 1114 Walnut Street, Allentown, PA.
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101-1614 • (610) 782-3000