CLARION - Attorney Sara Seidle-Patton will become Clarion County Judge of Common Pleas with the start of 2020 and its unlikely most county residents know how much work is involved with serving in that capacity.
A county court system involves much more than criminal and civil cases.
But for most people, the first thought of "court" involves criminal cases.
In 2018, the most recent year for which full numbers are available, 599 criminal cases where filed in Clarion County.
Of those cases, 165 were DUI cases; 155 were drug cases, 114 involved property loss or damage; 99 were personal death or injury incidents; 53 were based on public orders; seven were weapons cases; five were motor vehicle cases and one was classified as other.
Thirty percent of the cases were "felony" cases and 70 percent were "misdemeanor" cases.
Of the 624 cases process in 2018, which would include some carry-over cases from previous years and not all cases filed in 2018, 388 ended in guilty pleas or convictions, 172 ended with accelerated rehabilitation disposition, 55 cases were withdrawn and nine are deemed inactive.
As of Dec. 10, 732 criminal cases have been filed in Clarion County in 2019.
According to figures compiled by the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, approximately 239 civil cases were filed in Clarion County in 2018.
Eighty-nine of those cases were contract disputes; 70 were property disputes; 32 were labeled miscellaneous; 22 each were tort cases and civil appeals of administrative decisions; and four were professional liability cases.
Near 600 Clarion County court filings in 2018 involved domestic cases including such matters as divorce, child custody, protection from abuse orders and other matters affecting individuals and families.
Domestic cases filed in 2018 include but are not limited to: 121 custody disputes; 102 divorces; 68 juvenile delinquency hearings; 61 paternity cases; 50 protection from abuse order applications; 39 each of child abuse hearings and child support cases; 22 cases involving parental rights relinquishment; 19 adoptions; and 16 orphans court cases.
County judges of common pleas also oversee jury selection.
In 2018, Clarion County mailed out 1,709 summonses for possible jury duty.
Of those, 301 or 17 percent were returned as undeliverable. One-hundred thirty-nine 8 percent -- people did not respond to the summons; 315 18 percent -- were disqualified; 170 10 percent were excused; and 93 5 percent were exempted.
Those actions left 824 people available and qualified to serve on a jury.
Thirteen of those people were told not to report for jury duty while 1,165 were called in for actually jury selection (some people were called for selection for more than one trial.)
Ultimately, 181 people were empaneled on a jury in Clarion County in 2018.
A county president judge in Clarion County that judge is Judge James Arner and will be Seidle-Patton doesn't preside over every case.
Visiting judges, senior judges, arbitrators and other court-appointed administrators preside over some cases.
Even with assistance, managing a county court caseload is a lot of work.