Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 16


By Kim Litzke

There were 160 PFA cases. Every case
that had been filed prior to mid-March
and continued to a date after that, as
well as new filings in the second half
of March, April and May, went to an
ex parte hearing before a judge but
the final hearings were not scheduled
while the courts were closed. When
the court started figuring out how to
reopen, discussions centered on how
the PFA backlog could be cleared.
Bucks County has a long history of an
attorney volunteer program so that
domestic abuse parties would have
representation. The volunteer program
has enabled us to serve all parties that
needed relief from the court on the
one day a week for PFA hearings. Bucks
County Court of Common Please hears
all PFA cases on Wednesdays, which
allows the other days of the week for
judges to hear support, custody and
divorce matters.
June 3, 2020 was a first. Previously, the
largest list I've ever seen cleared in one
day was 50 cases. I had no idea how
we were going to handle the volume
that was building. As we got closer to
reopening, much thought and coordination had to go into a plan to resume
functioning. We needed to keep people
(parties and lawyers) safe at a time
when everyone feared being exposed
to the virus. We needed to make sure
parties were well represented when in
their final hearings. The court devised
a plan that four different judges would
be in four different courtrooms one day
and we could spread out the amount
of people that would still need to come

to the court house by staggering the
report times. The Court figured out
cleaning, requiring masks, arranging
chairs for social distancing and even
an elaborate plan to get through
security. Even with all that, how were
we going to be able to get 160 cases
heard in one day?
We put out the call. We told previous
volunteers and attorneys that had
never volunteered about our plan. They
learned what safety precautions were in
place and they said they were willing to
come. But then we told them what we
were asking of them to make this work.
We were asking them to work for two
weeks prior to the big day to represent

two to three times more clients than
they ever previously represented by
calling their opposing counsel in
advance of the day. The volunteers
barely batted an eye. They got on the
phones. They called their clients. They
called opposing counsel. They worked
with the coordinator in their courtroom
to get their questions answered and
kept the coordinator aware of the
status of their cases.
On the morning of June 3, 2020, I
woke up thinking that we were as
prepared as we were ever going to be
and hopeful that we could we pull it
off smoothly. It worked. It was amazing
to see 42 volunteer attorneys work


Bucks Writs - Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bucks Writs - Summer 2020

Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 1
Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 2
Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 3
Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 4
Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 5
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Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 16
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Bucks Writs - Summer 2020 - 20