District Judge Valarie Costanzo Tuesday was the first person to announce that she will be running for one of two vacant seats on the Washington County Court of Common Pleas.
Costanzo, a resident of Cecil Township, said she has adjudicated more than 50,000 cases during her 14 years as magistrate, a post she was first appointed to by former Gov. Tom Ridge. As a district judge, she presides over criminal, civil, landlord/tenant, traffic, and summary cases and is responsible for issuing arrest warrants and search warrants.
“With a prolonged vacancy on the court and a backlog of cases, it’s imperative that the county elects a qualified and experienced judge who doesn’t need on-the-job training,” Costanzo explained. “For the past 14 years, I’ve been in the courtroom on a daily basis, demonstrating my ability to closely listen to all parties, apply the law in an even-handed way, and render prompt decisions.”
Costanzo won election to a full term in 1999, and again in 2005 and 2011.
A former county assistant district attorney who prosecuted more than 1,500 criminal cases, Costanzo said she was instrumental in the development and implementation the county’s Fast Track Program, which saves taxpayer dollars by expediting a criminal case from the preliminary hearing stage to a final plea.
She has been an attorney in private practice for the past 18 years, handling a variety of civil matters.
A native of Washington County, Costanzo is a graduate of Canon-McMillan High School. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, and obtained her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School Of Law in 1994.
“As a lifelong resident of Washington County, I understand the issues and concerns of the community,” Costanzo said. “I believe that my 18-year legal career, as both a judge and attorney, provides me with a solid foundation to be an efficient and effective judge.”
Costanzo is a member of the Washington County Bar Association and Special Court Judges Association of Pennsylvania. In addition, she is vice president of the Washington County Special Court Judges Association and serves as chairwoman of its rules committee.