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Magisterial District Judge seat might not be filled until fall

July 14, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - More than three months after the death of Magisterial District Judge Larry K. Meminger, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the state Senate have yet to fill the vacancy, and the seat is likely to remain unfilled until this fall.

State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, said he has thrown his support behind Meminger's widow, Kindra, but is waiting for the governor to send a nomination to the Senate, which is in recess until September.

Larry Meminger, 46, was found dead in his Fayetteville, Pa., home March 30. Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said he apparently died of natural causes, but as of Tuesday had not received the final autopsy report.

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Meminger was appointed to the District 39-3-04 position in 1984 when his predecessor retired. The following year, he was elected to the first of four six-year terms, according to county records.

"As of a week or 10 days ago, there had been a filler nomination ... It's a technical maneuver to extend the time period during which the governor can make a nomination," said Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for the governor's office.

The "filler" in this case is the name of a member of the governor's staff, Ardo said. He would not give out the names of those who have submitted letters of interest to the governor.

Punt described the filler nomination procedure as "commonplace."

"Kindra ... asked to be considered for the position and I submitted a letter of support on her behalf" to the governor, Punt said. "We're kind of waiting for the governor to decide and send a name over."

Punt said several people interested in the position have contacted him, "but I was upfront with all of them and said if Mrs. Meminger wanted it, I would support her."

"It just seemed like the natural thing for me to do," Meminger, 45, said Tuesday. "I just want to continue the fairness of justice my husband represented for 21 years."

Meminger said she completed the Minor Judiciary Education Board Qualifying School in June, but has not heard yet if she passed. She has a degree in administration of justice from Shippensburg (Pa.) University and works as a substitute teacher in the Chambersburg Area School District.

Kindra Meminger said she realizes there is an element of politics in filling a vacant elective office.

"I'm just going to try," she said. "It could go in my favor or not."

Although Rendell is a Democrat and the Senate is controlled by the GOP, Punt said he would not characterize the appointment as a political battle without knowing whom the governor intends to nominate.

A two-thirds vote is required to approve a nominee, Punt said.

"That's why these judicial nominations take time," he said.

Franklin County Court Administrator William Sheaffer said Senior Magisterial District Judge Margaret Bria has been working at the Scotland, Pa., office on a part-time basis since April. President Judge John R. Walker of the 39th District of the Court of Common Pleas also has given the county's other six magisterial district judges authority to handle district cases until an appointment is made.

The district includes Greene and Southampton townships, the borough of Orrstown and the Franklin County portion of the borough of Shippensburg.

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