Bucks Writs - Summer 2019 - 14


Meet District Judge

By Susan E. Dardes


COURTROOM. I sat down with MDJ Petrucci

last week for a lengthy talk on how he got to be a District
Judge, how he runs his court and what he describes as
his "passion." Newtown Township is his home, where
he resides with his wife, and his 20-year-old son and
18-year-old daughter, both of whom were Council
Rock graduates.
Petrucci was sworn in on January 4, 2016, to serve as the
Magisterial District Judge ("MDJ") of Newtown Borough,
Newtown Township, Upper Makefield Township and
Wrightstown Township. He was elected to replace the long
serving Magistrate District Judge Donald E. Nasshorn, who
died in 2014. Of the eight people who ran for the Nasshorn
seat, Petrucci was the only one who was not a lawyer.
Describing Nasshorn as his boss, his friend, and his most
profound mentor, Petrucci is grateful to Nasshorn and to
everyone who gave him the opportunity to be where he is
and, Petrucci says, he thinks he was always meant to be.

import on facial expressions and body language. This ability
to read people assists him in determining who is telling the
truth in a given matter.

Petrucci is 3 ½ years into his 6-year term as MDJ, but he is
not new to that Newtown courtroom. Prior to having been
elected as a District Judge, Petrucci spent seven years as one
of the five constables assigned to Judge Nasshorn. In his
constable days, it was not uncommon for Petrucci to log in
over 80 hours a week.

In the Newtown area, where he has lived for thirty plus years,
he knows the people, he knows the community and he sees
a lot of litigants in front of him who aren't your typical court
goers. He tries to help those people turn a negative experience
into a positive one, so that next time they are faced with the
same or similar set of circumstances, they will make better
decisions and learn from their mistakes. He takes his time
with all cases, civil or criminal, so that he can understand the
situation and how both sides got to his courtroom on that day.

Now, his schedule is hectic in a different way. He sees the
constable-to-District Judge transition as a continuation of his
law enforcement service. He told me that every DJ might get
the same sets of facts, and access to the same PA statutes;
but the hard part, he said, is knowing the correct procedures
and interpreting the law in a way that solves problems and
genuinely helps people.

In the case of a juvenile arrested for a first time underage
drinking or possession of a small amount of marijuana, DJ
Petrucci doesn't want a teenager's future ruined for one poor
choice. He is a big believer in second chances, and this is
his passion - putting someone on the path to that second
chance. He could just set a fine for these juveniles, have their
parents pay the fine, and send them on their way. But that
doesn't help anyone in the long run. So what Petrucci does,

Petrucci isn't one to bang his gavel for effect as he feels
it is rude. He only has done that once, he told me, when
a criminal defendant was talking loudly out of turn. He
isn't one for video conferencing, unless he is covering a
vacationing judge's courtroom, because he places great


Bucks Writs - Summer 2019

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