Categories Op/Ed

Judge Duncan’s Farewell

Following is a letter from Magisterial District Judge Jayne F. Duncan to Conoy Township supervisors, dated April 8, 2018:

Dear Chairman Mohr and Supervisors:

I write to inform you of my decision to retire and resign my commission as Magisterial District Judge of District 02-3-09, Lancaster County. My resignation is to be effective at midnight, April 8, 2018.

I have been honored to serve as a Magisterial District Judge since my appointment in 1991. This opportunity for public service has been my great privilege and I remain deeply grateful to the people of our community. Each day has been a joy and a blessing. While I have sought to do my best in my capacity as an MDJ and as a member of this community, I have been sustained throughout by the support and kindness of each of you. Thank you.

District Judges occupy a unique position in our judicial system. As the public face of the Pennsylvania judiciary, MDJs are the most accessible and least insulated level of the judiciary. A citizen’s open access to the Magisterial District Courts is a fundamental aspect of fair and equal “access to justice.” District Judges maintain a high level of personal interaction with the general public on a daily basis. By both the rule of law and personal commitment, District Judges endeavor to maintain public faith in our collective integrity.

Over more than twenty-seven years of service, I have witnessed firsthand, the importance of giving all people the opportunity to appear in district courts and participate in this important process.

Recent reports would suggest that my departure is the basis for permanently closing the Elizabethtown Court. However, as you will recall this “closure” was first raised in December of 2016 and subsequently reported in the Lancaster newspaper. To that end, I would encourage each municipality to become better informed and educated regarding the merits of court closures.

The history of Magisterial District Courts in Lancaster County reveals that, at its inception in 1969-1970, there were 20 Courts in Lancaster County. In 2013, following the elimination of the Manheim Court, that number was reduced to 19. Although there was discussion of the subsequent closure of a Lancaster City Court, the public rallied and the Court remained open. Going forward, Conoy Township, as well as other municipalities, should prepare to make an informed choice as to the course of action that reflects the community’s best interest.

In closing, words cannot fully express my appreciation to you, for the chance to be part of a vibrant community that seeks to promote the common good, while respecting the rights of each individual. Thank you for your service to our community.


Jayne Duncan

About the author