51st judicial district
We are committed to promoting the rule of law and preserving justice for all. We will heighten the value of the court institution for community members and court employees alike. We will serve the people through enlightened and proactive leadership, enhancing the quality of life within court offices, and delivering dignified, respectful, and efficient service to all members of the community. We will strive to identify and develop future generations of highly skilled and creative public servants who can preserve the court's best traditions, while ably meeting the challenges arising from rapid social change.
As members of an institution vital to civilization, our mission is to deliver dignified, respectful, and efficient service to the community and to our peers, promoting the rule of law and preserving justice for the benefit of all.
Courts of Common Pleas are Pennsylvania's courts of general trial jurisdiction. They have existed in Pennsylvania at least since the Constitution of 1776, under which they were given constitutional status. Prior to the Commonwealth's Constitution of 1968, there existed separate Courts of Oyer and Tennier and General Jail Delivery, Quarter Sessions of the Peace and Orphans' Courts. The new constitution abolished these latter separate courts and incorporated them into the existing Common Pleas Courts.
Adams County's original Courthouse was built in 1804 and located in the Town Square. Due to lack of adequate space to expand the Courthouse at the location in the Town Square, the building referred to as the "historic Courthouse" was built and completed in 1859. The new brick Italianate-style building was designed to be large enough to house both the court system and county offices. The bell in the bell tower was cast in Philadelphia in 1804. The Adams County Courthouse, like most local buildings, was used as a hospital following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The original courtroom was in use from 1859 to 1979. The room's most striking characteristic is the tromp d'oeil frescoes painted by George Seiling in 1859. The frescoes give the illusion of ceiling support pillars encircling the room and an alcove behind the judge's bench. The Italianate symmetry evident throughout the courtroom necessitated the use of a faux door, leading nowhere, also seen behind the judge's bench. The frescoes and other features were restored or rectified between 1983 and 1985, with partial funding provided by a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission grant, and overseen by Conservationist Othmar Carli. Today, the courtroom is used for ceremonial purposes and by the County Commissioners to hold their public meetings.
In 1979, the current Courthouse, standing next to the historic Courthouse, was completed. A four-story (plus basement) steel-framed building with brick masonry veneer was constructed, including two full sized courtrooms. The design at that time was intended to house both Court and County offices. As demand for services from the Court increased over the years, the need for additional Common Pleas Judges became apparent. This led to the addition of a second judge in 1986, a third judge in 1998 and a fourth judge in 2010.
In 1980, the population in Adams County was 68,292. In 2010, the population was 101,407, a 48.5% increase. The Adams County Court of Common Pleas is using as much space as is available in both the historic and current Courthouses.
There are currently four Common Pleas Judges serving Adams County, referred to collectively as the Adams County Board of Judges:
The Honorable Michael A. George, President Judge
The Honorable John D. Kuhn
The Honorable Robert G. Bigham
The Honorable Thomas R. Campbell
The President Judge has responsibility over the following departments:
To search active Administrative Orders, please click the following link: