HARRISBURG, Pa (WHTM) – A swearing-in ceremony of local elected officials on Monday included a historic first for Dauphin County.
Newly elected Magisterial District Judge Paul Zozos is the son of George Zozos, also a sitting Magisterial District Judge from Harrisburg.
“In my memory, it is the first time that we’ve had a father-son combination serving simultaneously as judges,” said Hon. Richard Lewis, President Judge of Dauphin County’s Court of Common Pleas. Lewis, who oversaw the swearing-in of the younger Zozos, says he was confident that the second generation would serve his community as effectively as his father, who has held the same position for more than 30 years.
“I’m just excited to get going,” Zozos said, wearing his black robe for the first time, and reflecting on his childhood dream of following in his father’s footsteps. “I’ve always looked up to him. It’s just one of those things, that one day, I knew was going to happen.”
The 2015 election was a second effort for Zozos, who ran but failed to be elected to the same position six years prior. After defeating several others in the primary, Zozos ran unopposed in November. In the meantime, he left his job working as a customer service representative for a debt collection agency, and attended required training to assume the seat on the most local form of the bench in Pennsylvania. His district, 12-2-05, serves south Harrisburg, Hall Manor, and sections of Allison Hill. The district overseen by his father, 12-1-05, shares a common border, and also serves sections of Harrisburg.
As a Magisterial District Judge in Pennsylvania, Zozos’ court will mostly oversee small cases, including traffic violations and speeding tickets, disputes between landlords and tenants, and civil suits seeking monetary damages less than $12,000. He’ll also be the first to hear charges against higher profile defendants facing anything from DUI to homicide charges, before deciding if those cases should move on to the county level.
“I said be patient, and be open minded,” offers George Zozos, when asked if he gave his son any advice as he enters his new career. The historic significance also was not lost on the elder Zozos, regarding his son’s election to the bench in the same community. “We’re probably the only one in the state of Pennsylvania, let alone Dauphin County. I’m proud of that. I’m hoping that I still have another year or two to go. And I’m hoping that I can be of assistance to my son, because it is a difficult job, at the beginning. There’s a lot of things you have to know. Fortunately, he has me to help him out.”
Paul Zozos, 29, is a 2005 graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Penn State University, Harrisburg.