New president judge named in Bucks

Wallace H. “Skip” Bateman Jr. was elected unanimously by his fellow Common Pleas Court judges to serve as Bucks County’s new president judge

By Tom Waring

The Times

Wallace H. “Skip” Bateman Jr. was elected unanimously by his fellow Common Pleas Court judges to serve as Bucks County’s new president judge.

Bateman, 61, of Perkasie, was selected to replace outgoing President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, who has served in that role since 2014. He will serve a five-year term.

Bateman has served Bucks County as a Common Pleas Court judge since 2008, and has been administrative judge of the Criminal Division since 2010.

“It’s very humbling, and I’m honored to be selected by my colleagues,” he said. “They are all dedicated and hardworking people that I respect very much, so it’s very much an honor to be chosen by them.”

As president judge, Bateman will oversee court operations and the assignments of the county’s 13 Common Pleas judges — a number that will increase to 15 judges by January 2020 — as well as all of Bucks County’s magisterial district judges.

Other duties of the president judge are to supervise Adult and Juvenile Probation, Domestic Relations, the Juvenile Detention Center and about 500 employees of the court system. The president judge serves as Bucks County’s liaison to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and the state Supreme Court, oversees security policies and procedures at the Justice Center, serves on the Prison Oversight Board, the Juvenile Detention Center Board and the Salary Board, and oversees the budgets of the courts.

“I’ve known Skip since we served together in the District Attorney’s office,” Finley said. “He has a wide range of experience, is even-tempered and open to suggestions, and has the respect of the bench and the Bucks County Bar.”

Bateman is a cum laude graduate of La Salle University, where he received a degree in business administration. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1982 from Widener University School of Law.

He served as a Bucks County assistant district attorney and deputy district attorney from 1982–1987 before turning to private practice. He worked for 21 years at the firm of Grim, Biehn & Thatcher, where he was a shareholder when elected to the Common Pleas Court.

Bateman also has served as solicitor for the Bucks County Sheriff’s Department, as an adjunct faculty member at Bucks County Community College and as a facilitator in the MBA program at Holy Family University.

Bateman said it will be challenging to follow in Finley’s footsteps.

“I know how hard he worked and all that he accomplished,” he said. “I hope that I can follow the example he set.”

Bateman said the addition of two new judges “will present some new challenges, maybe some reorganization, as well as some welcome assistance. We probably have, per capita, the fewest judges of any county in the commonwealth. I think it’s fair to say that we judges hear more cases than most, so we are looking forward to having new people join us.” ••