Duncan: In the race
E-town judge Duncan points to experience in run BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
Jayne Duncan says her potential as Lancaster County's next judge is evident in her r'sum'.
Good thing, too, that the r'sum' includes positions on prestigious judicial boards and committees.
As district judge for the Elizabethtown area, Duncan is limited in her campaigning by state regulations, essentially barred from having a political voice while presiding over thousands of cases each year.
The 56-year-old married mother of two adult children will lean on decades of accomplishments while seeking the county's lone vacancy on the bench in November.
Fine by her, considering her most recent appointment was to the state's Judicial Conduct Board, which monitors behavior of attorneys and judges across the commonwealth.
"I'm running because I believe I'm the most qualified candidate," Duncan, who lives with her husband, William, in Mount Joy Township, said in a recent interview.
The r'sum' and reputation already have earned her a "highly recommended" rating from the Lancaster Bar Association.
She received the same recommendation in 2004 while running for county judge, a bid that never came to fruition because the seat ultimately wasn't filled that election year.
More than eight years have passed, and Duncan has quietly maintained her interest in moving from district to county court.
Prosecutor Christopher Larsen, defense lawyer Merrill Spahn and civil attorney Tom Sponaugle also are seeking the judgeship. One of the four Republican candidates is expected to be endorsed at the county GOP's convention Feb. 19.
"I was still very interested but can't be politically active because of being a magisterial district judge," Duncan said of the position she's held since 1991.
It's a position, she said, that she still enjoys.
"I love being a district judge. It's not a question of wanting to leave," she said from her office at 920 S. Spruce St. "It's the opportunity to use my experience and give back."
As district judge, Duncan approves criminal charges and warrants filed by police, presides over preliminary hearings and conducts summary trials, along with a number of other duties.
Her work with cases in Elizabethtown and Mount Joy and West Donegal townships has garnered statewide attention.
Prior to her August 2012 appointment to the conduct board, Duncan served on the state Supreme Court's Criminal Procedural Rules Committee from 2010-12.
She said with those panels she gained a "broader perspective" of the law while working with what she calls some of the most intelligent professionals in the field.
"I gained a lot of maturity and a good view of the law. I think (that) would be a benefit to the bench," she said.
But, if elected, she'll bring no particular agenda to the seat.
"Judges are not to make any promises," she said, noting that her only specific plan is to stay efficient.
Critics have questioned the speed of the county's judicial system. President Judge Joseph Madenspacher has implemented a new continuous, individual calendar system which is to go into effect in July.
The new model would allow for trials to be held year-round, not just during designated two-week terms, as it stands now. Civil court and family court will run continuously with criminal court, according to Madenspacher's plan.
"We have been timely and accurate," Duncan said of her office.
"Our office has been on top of moving cases forward."
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