June 25, 2014
HARRISBURG – District Justice Rebecca Margerum heard 11 cases on the first day of Harrisburg’s Housing Court, created to help expedite cases involving abandoned and blighted properties in the city.
“Reports are that the first day of the new Housing Court went smoothly,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse, who pushed for implementation of the Housing Court to help reduce the backlog of cases involving violations of city code ordinances. “We believe Housing Court will be a major tool in helping the city address problems with blight.”
In addition to Judge Margerum, Judge David Judy will hear cases involving code citations in Harrisburg. The Housing Court is based in Dauphin County’s night court facility on Mall Road.
Before the creation of the Housing Court, codes citations were handled by magisterial district judges, which resulted in disparate sentences for similar violations and a backlog of unresolved cases.
“The new system,” Mayor Papenfuse said, “should help reduce inconsistencies in sentencing and encourage property owners to act quickly to address code violations.”
Most of the property owners cited in cases heard on Wednesday received maximum $1000 fines.
Codes Director David Patton attended the Housing Court and commended Judge Margerum on the orderly procedures followed in the court’s initial day of operation.
“Based on court procedures today, we should see a significant reduction in the amount of court time codes inspectors must spend in court, thereby allowing more time for them to address the myriad of issues that plague our city,” Patton said.
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