Woman nominated for district justice

October 01, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - She's not the first, but if Shirley Shatzer's nomination gets through the State Senate and she passes the certification test, she will be the only woman district justice working in Franklin County.

The other five seats are held by men.

Shatzer said she learned Tuesday from State. Sen. Terry Punt's office that Gov. Tom Ridge nominated her to succeed District Justice John Ommert, who retired in June. Punt recommended Shatzer to the governor. Ommert, when he retired, said he would recommend her to Punt.

Shatzer started working as a part-time secretary in Ommert's office in 1984. She went full time in 1986, she said.

If Shatzer, a Republican, is confirmed by the GOP-dominated State Senate, she could begin serving by the end of the year. A spokeswoman in Punt's office said the Senate will vote on her confirmation before Thanksgiving.


Shatzer, 61, wife of Allen Shatzer, mother of two grown daughters, grandmother of five and a part-time waitress at the Sunnyway Diner in Greencastle, said she is nervous about taking the certification test.

The test and the courses leading to it are given at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa.

"It's been a long time since I've been in school," she said. "My biggest worry is that I might flunk out."

If she is seated, Shatzer will fill out Ommert's unexpired term until December 1999. She would have to run for re-election after that.

"I don't know if I would run again. I'll see how the two years will go. It's going to be a different hat to wear," she said.

Shatzer said she had not sat through any district court hearings until recently. J. William Stover, a retired senior district justice, has been filling Ommert's seat until his replacement is found.

District justices are elected to six-year terms. They represent the first level of the Pennsylvania judicial system. Citizens accused of everything from simple traffic violations to murder come before a district justice first.

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