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From the Desk of Matthew Teeter, Candidate for Adams County Judge

(5/1) Since launching my campaign in January, I have had the pleasure of meeting many new people, getting reacquainted with old friends and, despite the fact that Iíve lived here all of my life, learning so many new things about Adams Countyís history, its communities and its residents. Because my family is rooted in this county, most of the people I meet arenít truly strangers, even if I have never met them before.

My grandfather, Daniel Teeter, opened his law firm in Gettysburg in 1937. My grandmother, Fairfield native Hannah Neely, was his first secretary. Shortly after the U.S. entry into World War II, Daniel was drafted into the Army and, by July of 1942, had closed his law firm and reported for duty in New Cumberland. After the war, Daniel and Hannah returned to Gettysburg, reopened the law firm started a family.

Daniel was elected to serve as Adams County District Attorney in 1947. He was reelected three times, serving as District Attorney until 1962. In those days, District Attorney was a part-time position and came with a small salary and no courthouse office or staff, so Daniel maintained his own office and, in addition to handling his duties as District Attorney, maintained a busy private practice. My grandfather passed away in 1990, but members of the Adams County Bar, and people I meet throughout the county, continue to share with me their fond memories of my grandfather.

My father, Samuel, and my uncle, Robert, joined their fatherís firm in 1974. The firmís name became Teeter, Teeter & Teeter, as it remains to this day. After earning my undergraduate degree from Penn State and my law degree from Temple, I joined Teeter, Teeter & Teeter in 2003.

Teeter, Teeter & Teeter is a general practice law firm, which means we assist clients in a wide variety of legal matters. I have represented clients in virtually every type of case that could come before the Court. I also assist clients with transactional matters, things like real estate settlements and estate planning, which donít typically see the inside of a courtroom, but can end up there if there is a dispute, like when someone breaches the terms of a real estate contract.

Two of Adams Countyís four Judges are retiring at the end of 2015, and Adams County voters will choose two candidates to replace them from the three candidates who are running. In order to make an informed decision, voters should understand the types of cases handled by our court. Although the President Judge will decide what cases to assign to the newly elected Judges in 2016 and beyond, the types of cases handled by the retiring Judges is relevant to the discussion.

Most people associate the Court with criminal cases, largely because those are the cases they see reported in the newspaper every day. However, criminal cases represent only about 20% of the cases filed in Adams County each year, and about 90% of those cases conclude with a guilty plea or with the defendant being admitted to ARD, a pre-trial diversionary program for first-time offenders. Neither of the two retiring Judges oversee or hear criminal cases in Adams County.

One of the two retiring Judges handles all divorce, annulment, custody and support cases, which I will refer to as "family law" cases, in Adams County, and has done so since before I started practicing law in 2003. Family law cases represent over 50% of the cases filed in Adams County each year. The other retiring Judge handles all Juvenile Court cases, all Orphanís Court cases, which include things like adoptions, guardianship and accounts, and a portion of the Courtís non-family law civil cases.

The types of cases heard by the two retiring Judges represent a substantial portion of my practice as an attorney. At any given time, more than half of my clients are family law clients. I have been appointed by the Court to serve as Divorce Master, to take testimony and evidence and make recommendations to the Court. I am the Assistant Solicitor of Adams County Children and Youth Services (ACCYS). Before accepting the position with ACCYS, I was regularly appointed by the Court to represent children and parents in Juvenile Court proceedings. I have represented clients in guardianship proceedings, including as court-appointed counsel for incapacitated adults. I regularly represent clients in adoption proceedings and in civil cases.

As an attorney, I have dedicated substantial time and effort to improving the Courtís handling of family law and Juvenile Court cases, and to improving access to the Court for people who cannot afford, or do not need, an attorney. I am a member of the Adams County Family Law Rules Committee, Juvenile Dependency Court Team and Adams County Childrenís Roundtable.

As a member of the Adams County Law Library Committee, I help oversee the countyís Law Library, which is open to the public. As a member of the Adams County Family Law Committee, I helped develop some of the first, and still some of the best, family law self-help forms in Pennsylvania, which are available to the public for free on the Adams County website and in the Law library. Although Pennsylvania has now developed model forms, I recommend those developed by our local committee over the state-wide forms.

I hope to have the opportunity to continue to work hard to improve the Adams County Court as Judge. I have the experience that matters in this election, and ask for your vote in the May 19 primary. For more information about me, or to volunteer with my campaign, please visit TeeterForJudge.com or email info@teeterforjudge.com.

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