State appoints new court administrator for Washington County

August 1, 2014
Patrick Grimm

Patrick Grimm is excited to roll up his sleeves and dive right into his new position as district court administrator for Washington County.

Grimm was officially appointed to the position Friday by the state, after the post was open for 14 months. A lawyer formerly with Peacock Keller in Washington, the Trinity High School graduate said he was excited about the opportunity.

“I’ll still use my legal knowledge,” the McMurray resident said. “Plus, I know how the system works.”

Grimm was recommended for the position by Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca. The pair have known each other since Grimm clerked for her in 2008. He left in 2010 to pursue a position with Peacock Keller. Grimm graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 2004 and the Duquesne University School of Law in 2008.

“It’s been pending with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts for 10 months,” O’Dell Seneca said of Grimm’s appointment. “It gets approved through the hierarchy.”

The district court administrator position opened last May, when Christine Weller retired. Weller was appointed to the position while former Judge Thomas D. Gladden still presided over the county courts.

O’Dell Seneca said Grimm was a great fit.

“He’s very, very bright,” she said. “He’s an excellent lawyer with great skills. I always felt having a lawyer (in that position) was an extreme advantage. There are so many rules and changes, and it’s wonderful to be able to turn to someone for help.”

Grimm will be in charge of jury management, personnel, budget issues and will act as a liaison to the state administrative office. O’Dell Seneca said Grimm also will act as an extension of her office and will be a liaison to other judges at the courthouse. She hopes Grimm can tackle the county court’s case-management system and make it more efficient.

“The Supreme Court would like to see us go paperless. So, we are eventually working toward that,” she said.

In addition to Grimm’s appointment, two other positions were filled by the state. Sally Michalski of North Strabane Township, who acted as the special court administrator, was promoted to deputy court administrator. Joyce Hood of Washington, who acted as deputy administrator of the functional unit, was promoted to special court administrator. Their positions became official Oct. 1, 2013. Grimm eventually will appoint an employee to Hood’s former position.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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