District justices are now known as magisterial district justices
ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- The name may be changing, but the job remains the same for magisterial district judges, the new term for district justices.
The change stems from a law Gov. Ed Rendell signed Nov. 30, which also replaces the term "justice of the peace," which hasn't been used in years.
"A rose by any other name is just a rose," said Frank Abate, who's presided over the district court in North East for more than three decades.
The name change better reflects the position, according to Dominick DiPaolo, magisterial district judge in Erie.
"The basic fact is that throughout the whole court system in Pennsylvania, everyone is addressed as judge but the minor judiciary," DiPaolo said.
The position has undergone other titular modifications.
When Abate entered district court in 1970, the position was known as a "district justice of the peace." It was later changed to "district judge," but was soon changed back to "district justice of the peace," Abate said.
Abate, who will retire this year, said he isn't planning to replace stationary to reflect the change.
"I have one year to go and I have a limited amount of things saved with my name on them," said Abate. "I will expend all existing stocks."