Gov. Wolf Signs Yaw Legislation Modernizing the Office of District Attorney

HARRISBURG – As legislators continue conversations about criminal justice reform, a state Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Vice Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was signed into law today by Governor Tom Wolf. 

Senator Yaw’s bill, Senate Bill 420, now Act 88 of 2021, focuses on a District Attorney holding a valid license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from the time of election throughout the term of office.

“Currently, there is no requirement that a person elected to the office of District Attorney possess an active license to practice law at the time of entering office, which SB 420 will require,” Sen. Yaw said.  “My bill would also establish safeguards so that the office of District Attorney would continue to operate uninterrupted in the event of a suspension of the law license or disbarment from the practice of law of a sitting District Attorney.  It would provide needed uniformity and efficiency to current law and for those who discharge the duties of the office.  It will assure the citizens that the integrity expected in the office of District Attorney is maintained.”

Senate Bill 420 would cover situations when a District Attorney’s law license is suspended, or they are disbarred.  In a case of suspension, the First Assistant District Attorney would become the Acting District Attorney pending reinstatement of the elected District Attorney, or until the end of the elected District Attorney’s current term.  Disbarment would create a vacancy, which would be filled under Act 7, 8, and 9 of 2021 that would bring consistency to the rules of succession when a vacancy occurs in the office of a county District Attorney.

The new law takes effect immediately.

For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.

CONTACT:   Matt Osenbach (717) 787-3280

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