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Blair courts close to observe Juneteenth

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County courts, based on a directive of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, will be closed June 18 in observance of Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

All county court functions that were scheduled June 18 are being rescheduled because they and all magisterial district courts will be closed that day, according to a recent notice by Blair County President Judge Elizabeth A. Doyle.

County judges do have the option, under the Supreme Court directive, to address essential functions and matters deemed to be in need of immediate attention.

While the Supreme Court directive recognizes Juneteenth as a “special holiday” for state-level court employees — which makes it a paid holiday for those employees — the directive has no similar effect on county-level court personnel whose holidays are established by county commissioners or through the signing of a negotiated union contract.

The state Supreme Court’s directive also has no effect on county clerk and prothonotary offices, based on a notice distributed by the state court administrator’s office.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law in 2019 designating June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, marking the day in 1865 when enslaved Blacks in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom. It was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the United States.

Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, Wolf recently designated that June 18 will be a special holiday in recognition of Juneteenth for state employees in agencies under his jurisdiction.

The state Supreme Court followed suit and advised county courts to mark this year’s Juneteenth recognition on June 18. Decisions about next year’s court holidays have not yet been made, according to the state court administrator’s office.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456

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