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Abe Kassis - County Judge

Our program featured Northampton County Judge Abe Kassis. He joins former District Attorney John Morganelli as the two most recent additions to the nine-member Court. As the “baby judge” his lack of seniority puts him last on the list when it comes to things such as preference of court room. Abe had a 26-year career as an attorney and he noted how different it is in his new position. An attorney represents their clients and advocates only for them. A judge must balance both sides.

The selection of judges varies from state to state. Pennsylvanians elect their judges. Judges are political appointments in many states. Northampton County has 15 magistrates to handle cases involving things such as traffic tickets or monetary issues less than $12,000. They also hear evidence in cases that may go to trial. If the evidence is believable and is enough to prosecute then the case proceeds to a trial. The County Judges handle the more serious cases.

The trial court in Pennsylvania has three divisions: civil, criminal, and orphans. Civil cases are citizen vs. citizen and involve issues such as divorce, landlord/tenant disputes, and personal injury. The criminal cases are state level prosecution and are considered government vs. citizen. The orphans court handles cases involving adoptions, marriage licenses, and custody. Judges in Northampton County handle cases in all three divisions.

The history of the Northampton County Court dates to the 1760s when the courthouse was located in center square. The Moravian-forged bell t hat now resides in the courthouse lobby was used to call the citizens for the original reading of the Declaration of Independence. This was one of only 4 initial public readings of the document.


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