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2 running for district judge in Washington Township

Chuck Biedka
| Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011

Two people with very different training and experience want to be magisterial district judge for the Washington Township area.

Incumbent Elise Glenn, 52, of Washington Township and Jason Buczak, 35, of Avonmore are facing each other on the Nov. 8 ballot for the district encompassing Bell, Loyalhanna and parts of Salem Township as well as Washington Township and Avonmore Borough.

Glenn, who has been an attorney since 1987, was appointed district judge in 2009 by then-Gov. Ed Rendell following the death of two-term magistrate Lawrence Franzi.

Glenn is seeking election to the six-year term and is running on a platform of training as an attorney and on-the-job experience.

Buczak is a Westmoreland County deputy sheriff's lieutenant. He oversees deputies assigned to civil and juvenile cases and gun permit applications.

Buczak said he would apply a common sense standard to the court.

He believes he has watched enough court proceedings to handle court hearings or district court trials.

He has a bachelor's degree in administration of justice and 11 years of experience as a deputy.

Glenn said she gained experience as a judicial clerk at the U.S. Department of Labor and as an attorney in private practice in Pittsburgh.

Glenn is running on her qualifications and more than 18 months of experience as a district judge.

She said her initial appointment was made because of her experience and professional training.

Glenn said her years at the Labor Department were invaluable because it helped her understand detailed law and render opinions.

She also gained experience from handling cases in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, including cases involving the National Labor Relations Board and Consolidated Natural Gas. She has provided legal advice to the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg's canon committee.

"I love being a district judge," Glenn said. "There are different types of cases coming at you every day."

There is no requirement for magisterial district judges to be attorneys, but non-attorneys must pass a four-week state class to be certified. If they fail the class, they can't take office until they re-take the test and pass.

Buczak said he had to work 32 hours a week when he was a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh, but he still made the dean's list and earned a bachelor's degree.

"I'm already enrolled for the Nov. 14 class," Buczak said.

Buczak said he would resign from his deputy's job if he is elected district judge.

Chuck Biedka can be reached at

What does a district judge do?

District magisterial judges, who serve 6-year terms, preside over the arraignment and preliminary hearings of criminal suspects, such as those for drunken driving, burglary and robbery or even murder, in their district unless these people waive charges to county court. When a judge holds charges to court, the case is sent to county court for trial.

A district judge also handles civil disputes, such as landlord and tenant disputes, delinquency and contracts disagreements involving as much as $12,000.

A district judge can also listen to evidence and rule on summary criminal cases, such as vehicle code offenses, underage drinking, illegal fishing and game law violations. Any appeals are made to county court.

A district judge is paid $82,303 annually plus benefits.

Jason Buczak

• Party: Cross-filed

• Age: 35

• Residence: 128 Beachboys Lane, Avonmore

• Political experience: None

Elise Glenn

• Party: Cross-filed

• Age: 52

• Residence: 303 Young Drive, Washington Township

• Political experience: Appointed district judge in 2009

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