Court changes set for 2013

December 13, 2012

Washington County Children and Youth Services will get a fresh start in 2013 with a new director and new judge to oversee the department.

Early this year, former CYS director Lori Harbert resigned after Washington County Judge John F. DiSalle, who had handled CYS cases, expressed “grave concern” about the administration of the agency, which includes a staff of between 70 and 80 employees. She was replaced by Kimberly J. Rogers of Jefferson, Greene County, in October.

Now, according to the administrative assignments for 2013 from President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca, DiSalle will be replaced by Judge Katherine B. Emery to hear CYS cases. DiSalle will now preside over orphans’ court, which handles guardianship cases and cases involving wills, estates, trusts and probate matters.

Emery and DiSalle also will handle criminal jury and non-jury trials, which promise to consume most of their time because the county will be down two judges after Judge Paul Pozonsky and Judge Janet Moschetta Bell announced their retirements in 2012.

Both seats are to be filled by special election this year. In the meantime, the county has been utilizing senior judges to lighten the caseload.

Under the order, Emery also will serve as back-up judge to O’Dell Seneca in mental health court. DiSalle will serve as back-up judge to Emery in juvenile court and to Judge Gary Gilman in family law.

O’Dell Seneca will continue to preside over civil jury trials, including asbestos litigation, and will handle mental health procedures and appeals while presiding over mental health court. She also will be responsible for license suspension appeals, mortgage foreclosure and veterans courts, while overseeing district judges, serving as chairman of the jury selection commission and court representative to the county salary board.

Gilman will handle divorce, custody, domestic relations, and protection-from-abuse cases, as well as summary appeals.

The year’s jury trial term scheduled is as follows: Jan. 7 through 18; Feb. 25 through March 8; April 1 through 12; May 6 through 17; June 10 through 21; July 8 through 19; Sept. 9 through 20; Oct. 21 through Nov. 1, and Dec. 2 through 13.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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