Lebanon attorney David R. Warner Jr. wants to be magisterial district judge for Palmyra Borough and North Londonderry, South Londonderry, East Hanover, and Cold Spring townships.

Warner announced via a Facebook video on Jan. 18 that he would like to succeed incumbent MDJ Carl R. Garver, who will retire when his current expires at the end of 2023.

Garver’s MDJ court, at 325 S. Railroad St. in Palmyra, is one of six in Lebanon County.

Magisterial district judges preside over Pennsylvania’s small claims courts. They handle traffic and minor criminal cases, preliminary stages of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, landlord-tenant disputes, and civil lawsuits involving up to $12,000.

Warner said he will cross-file and appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots at the May 2 primary election.

The general election to fill Garver’s seat will be on Nov. 7, and the winner will serve a six-year term.

Warner, a Republican, has been a practicing attorney since 2007 and is currently Lebanon County solicitor. He is a partner at Buzgon Davis, a Lebanon law firm, and a former Lebanon County assistant district attorney.

“I’m looking forward to serving the community in a different way, hopefully as your next magisterial district judge,” he said in his Facebook video.

Warner has ownership interests in local businesses Pro Seal Asphalt Maintenance, Starr War Properties, and Kind Hearted Pet Resort. Warner said that either his respective co-owner or wife is the day-to-day operator of those businesses and that he would remain in a passive role if elected.

Warner is also a former investor in LebTown.

Pennsylvania law forbids a district judge from serving as county solicitor, and Warner said he will resign as the county’s attorney if elected.

Warner told LebTown that he will also leave Buzgon Davis if elected, but keep his attorney’s license. MDJs are allowed to practice law with restrictions designed to avoid conflicts of interest and maintain judicial independence.

MDJs are state employees. They were paid $98,565 in 2022. A 7.8% pay raise this year, indexed to inflation, will push their annual salary $106,253.

Warner is the second candidate to announce a run for Garver’s soon-to-be-vacated office. Palmyra resident Cynthia Lyons announced her candidacy earlier this month.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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