The entire bench of 18 Bucks County judges recused itself Tuesday from hearing a case considering the redistricting of voting maps for the Central Bucks School District.
In an order from the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Jeffrey G. Trauger notified all parties involved that the hearing scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9, was canceled.
“Due to a full bench recusal of this Court, and the pendency of the appointment of an out-of-county senior judge the scheduling of any hearings on these matters is continued generally,” the order reads.
As a result, the existing electoral maps will remain in place through the 2025 election, said Jeffrey Garton, the Central Bucks School District’s lawyer. Garton is a partner with the Bucks County-based Begley, Carlin and Mandio law firm.
“It’s unusual and unexpected,” noted the attorney. “I did not anticipate it.”
It’s unclear when a new judge from outside Bucks County will be assigned to the case. In the meantime, Garton said, “There’ll be no change for the foreseeable future.”
It’s also unclear why the full bench recused itself. One judge, Stephen A. Corr, who was elected in 2022, served on the Central Bucks School Board for three terms, including as its president and vice president.
Brendan Flynn, an attorney representing CBSD Fair Votes said, “We look forward to presenting our case in court once a new judge is assigned.” Flynn is an attorney with Curtin & Heefner LLC, based in Bucks County. Some of its attorneys have contributed to Democratic candidates and committees.
In response to 2020 census data, the school district filed a redrawn map of its nine voting districts last month with the Bucks County court, as the law requires. As presented, the proposed map would have more than 6,000 residents in New Britain Borough and Doylestown Township move from a region voting this year to one that would not vote until 2025.
CBSD Fair Votes, a grassroots citizens group, challenged the school district’s proposed map, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Public School Code. The group filed an alternative map for the court to consider, after gathering approximately 3,600 signatures on a petition calling for the court’s review.
Under the district’s map, the existing nine regions would continue, with one school director each, although it significantly realigns those districts.
CBSD Fair Votes’ map creates three voting districts, with three school board members elected from each.
Tracy Suits, a founding member of Fair Votes, said she “looks forward to continuing to work with our team and the voters of Central Bucks School District to make our case for fair voting regions and more impact in selecting our representation.”
The school district declined to comment on the matter.