Jesse Pettit

Jesse Pettit

District Judge Jesse Pettit on Thursday became the first hopeful to announce plans to run for a Washington Common Pleas Court judgeship next year.

Pettit, 46, of Venetia, was elected magisterial district judge in 2017 in the area that includes Peters, Nottingham and Union townships plus Finleyville.

District judges preside over criminal, civil, landlord-tenant disputes, traffic and summary cases and they are responsible for issuing arrest warrants, search warrants, and emergency protection-from-abuse orders.

A Washington County native, Pettit graduated from Trinity High School in 1993 and is a cum laude graduate of Ohio University. He earned his law degree in 2001 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a co-founder and president of the Family Law Society.

Pettit is a member of the Pennsylvania Special Court Judges Association and treasurer of the Washington County Special Court Judges Association. He was appointed to serve on the committee helping to increase security in local magisterial district courts.

As a prosecutor, he has worked both as a deputy attorney general in the organized crime and narcotics division of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.

Pettit began his private practice of law in Washington and Allegheny counties in 2006 representing businesses and individuals in civil litigation and family law.

He and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Watkins, an endodontist, have four children.

“I would like to bring my legal experience, strong work ethic and commitment to the Washington County Court of Common Pleas in hopes of having a greater impact on more people’s lives,” Pettit said in a news release.

There will be a vacancy on the seven-member bench to replace Katherine B. Emery, who is retiring as president judge but who will remain as a senior judge in Washington County.

Also on Thursday, the Washington County Commissioners thanked Emery for her 25 years on the bench, which followed a career in county government.

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