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Radnor Judge Hangs Up His Robe; Cuts Close His Courtroom

The district court in Radnor is one of the local courts in Pennsylvania that is being closed at the end of the year in an effort to reduce costs. "It's more than an inconvenience, it affects public safety," said a Radnor Police Lieutenant.

Magisterial District Judge John Tuten of Villanova.
Magisterial District Judge John Tuten of Villanova.
The eight years have passed quickly.

Eight years ago John Tuten was an attorney in private practice who also worked in investments and banking when he successfully ran for Magisterial District Justice in Radnor.

Since then he has seen just about every civil disagreement and criminal charge pass through his district court on Sugartown Road in Wayne. Most of Radnor has been covered by his court, with a small sliver of the Bryn Mawr area belonging to Judge David H. Lang.

Tuten's court was one of three in Delaware County being merged in a plan to save money throughout Pennsylvania's judicial system. Those in the county that have closed or will close have judges who are at or near the retirement age of 70.

So those in Radnor who want to challenge a speeding ticket or settle a civil dispute will have to go to a court in Newtown Township to do so.

"I can't see how the judicial system would work without courts like this," said Tuten, who handled everything from preliminary hearings for high profile crimes to rental disputes. Sometimes the sum of money being argued over is so small, Tuten said, "Sometimes I sit there and think, 'Why are we all here'?"

But he has also heard many high profile cases, like the botched attempted kidnapping of a Villanova resident and the armed robbery behind the Wayne Starbucks.

Tuten said he never felt threatened on the bench, adding that there's good security in the office, and having Constable Mike Connor and Radnor police officers present at criminal hearings are reassuring.

While Tuten said he has seen an increase in drug-related crimes by young people, he said he has also had happy moments on the bench that reaffirm his faith in people. Being able to get help for a person who has problems with alcohol, and having them come back later and say thank you, is one of the many positive parts of the job, which has a starting salary of around $65,000.

The employees in Tuten's office will be transferred to other district courts, he said. In the new year, Tuten and his wife Gerri will go to New Zealand for a month, and he still has an office in Philadelphia for his fiduciary law practice.

Tuten said he also hopes to read all of the Man Booker Prize-winning books in his spare time.

"I've really enjoyed getting to know the Radnor Police, some of the administration, and meeting so many people who come in here and don't leave as enemies," he said.

The shuttering of the court will impact the Radnor Police and their schedule because officers so often have to testify at hearings, said Lt. Christopher Flanagan.

In fact, "It's more than an inconvenience, it affects public safety," he said, adding that officers could leave Tuten's courtroom in an emergency and get to a Radnor location quickly. The same won't be said when they are on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square.

But, "We'll have to manage it, make it work," Flanagan said.
Radnortownship December 09, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Thanks for your service Judge. It was good to have a Radnor guy hear Radnor problems!

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