James J. Panchik, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County has announced that he is seeking retention for a second term on the bench. Judge Panchik filed his Declaration of Candidacy with the Pennsylvania Department of State and will appear on the November 2017 ballot for a retention vote.
In a press release, Judge Panchik said he brings to the Court “continuity, competence and dedication to the independence of the judiciary.”
With the election of a new judge to join the bench in 2018, Judge Panchik said he will provide continuity of service to the Court by bringing his 10 years of judicial experience to his new term. Having practiced law for 25 years prior to his election in 2007 and with 10 years experience as a trial judge, he feels he has the competence necessary to serve in this position. He said he is committed to the independence of the judiciary.
Judge Panchik advises that “the judiciary is operating in an adverse environment nationally, state-wide and sometimes on a local level.” He encourages that we must “preserve the independence of the third, co-equal judicial branch of government.”
As the only current full-time judge, Judge Panchik’s responsibilities are all encompassing. As President Judge, he administers the Domestic Relations section of the Court as well as the Armstrong County Probation Department. Judge Panchik has extensive experience in criminal and civil trials, family law matters and all cases in between.
Judge Panchik’s dedication to the law and to Armstrong County began as a magna cum laude graduate of Indiana University of PA in 1979. Judge Panchik then graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in 1982. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Armstrong County Bar Association, which he served as president in 1993. For 25 years prior to his elevation to the bench, he built a successful general practice focusing on civil and criminal litigation, administrative law, real estate, and administration of personal estates. Judge Panchik served as solicitor for Armstrong County for about half of his time in private practice and served the Armstrong County Industrial Development Authority for nearly as long. Judge Panchik also served Mahoning Township, the Zoning Hearing Boards of Applewold Borough and Sugarcreek Township, and as solicitor for the Ford City Borough Municipal Authority from 1991 through 2007.
Additionally, Judge Panchik served on the Board of Directors of the Indiana/Armstrong Commission on Drugs and Alcohol, ARC Manor, the Ukrainian Technological Society, and the United Way of Armstrong County, which he also served as president for two years. His busiest position as an attorney was as Chief Public Defender during his time in the Armstrong County Public Defender’s Office from 1985 to 1989.
Judge Panchik has continually served as a volunteer in the community and the legal profession. While on the bench, Judge Panchik remains actively involved in legal education, both in development of formal programs for legal professionals and in disseminating information on the Armstrong County judicial system to the general public. He is regularly featured on The National Business Institute’s “What Judges Want You to Know” panel in Pittsburgh. Judge Panchik serves annually on Clarion University’s C.L.E. Judges Panel and participates in the Biannual Pennsylvania Bar Institute family law panel in Allegheny County. At Duquesne University School of Law, Judge Panchik served as a Moot Court Judge, performed peer review for its Criminal Law Journal, and took part in “A Day in the Life” panel and other practical education exercises. Judge Panchik sat on the Board of Governors for the Duquesne University School of Law Alumni Association for six years, ending in 2016.
Taking an interest in the county’s judicial history, Judge Panchik hosted a segment of Pennsylvania Cable Network’s series on historic courthouses and spoke about prominent judges in the history of Armstrong County. Judge Panchik also hosted a panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in Armstrong County in 2016, exposing hundreds of students and county residents to the appellate court operating in Armstrong County.
Judge Panchik resides in Worthington, with his wife, Beth, of 28 years and their five children.