WILKES-BARRE — For the first time in Luzerne County’s history, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania heard cases in the Luzerne County Courthouse as part of a statewide tour.
The occasion was marked by a ceremonial session in a third-floor courtroom. Judges at the county and district court level were in attendance, as well as a courtroom full of spectators.
They watched the court at work, as the panel heard a variety of different cases.
Created in 1968, the Commonwealth Court primarily deals with “public” or administrative law matters, and hears appeals from county courts and state administrative agencies.
The court is also unique from other intermediate appellate courts in that it has extensive original jurisdiction — in other words, it acts like a trial court in certain types of cases where the Commonwealth is a party.
President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt explained the court will spend one week each in cities across the state, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Within that schedule, there are special visits slated to cities such as Wilkes-Barre.
“We are very honored to be here in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas,” Leavitt said.
For Commonwealth Court Judge Joseph Cosgrove, the visit to Luzerne County was a homecoming.
Cosgrove, a Pittston native, told the audience he had his first case ever as an attorney in the Luzerne County Courthouse. It was also where he heard his first case as a judge for the Court of Common Pleas.
“This is home to me,” he said.
Cosgrove was appointed to fill a vacant seat last summer by Gov. Tom Wolf. His term runs until January 2018, but he previously announced he will run for his own 10-year term.
Cosgrove is the first person from Luzerne County to serve on the Commonwealth Court. He was sworn into the position in August.