The Speakers Bureau
The Hon. Chester Harhut
Governor Robert P. Casey appointed Chester T. Harhut to the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas on April 30, 1987. In November 1987, he was retained for an additional ten (10) year term. He served as a trial judge until January 1996 when he assumed administrative and judicial responsibility for the newly created Family Court. He continues to serve in that capacity and in October 2000, he became President Judge of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.
Judge Harhut received his Bachelor of Science Degrees in Accounting and Business from Bethel College, and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Law in 1972. In May of 1995, the National Judicial College, University of Nevada, awarded Judge Harhut a "Masters of Judicial Studies" degree.
He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network; and Dean’s Advisory Board, Wilkes University School of Law.
He is a member of the National Judicial-Child Support Task Force, the Pennsylvania Commission for Justice Initiatives, Department of Public Welfare Integrated Children’s Service Advisory Committee and the County Commissioners’ Association of Pennsylvania.
In his role as Family Court Judge and President Judge, Judge Harhut moved to integrate human services, mental health and drug and alcohol treatment into the legal setting with the objective of alleviating conflict while helping families achieve a permanent solution to family issues. He established a categorical system of conflict with concomitant programming and services to help families in each level of conflict. The theory is that families coming through the court system are in crisis. They need patience, understanding, cooperation and services to help them overcome these difficulties and move them into position to resolve their own disputes.
Judge Harhut also spearheaded S.T.A.R.S., the anti-truancy program in Lackawanna County. This collaborative program focuses on reducing criminal activity while emphasizing the importance of education.
In addition, Judge Harhut is one of the state's foremost proponents of resolving family conflict through alternative dispute resolution. He is a strong advocate of mediation as an alternative to litigation. Since the introduction of this interplay between the courts, social services, and the community, very positive results have occurred for families and the community.
His most recent efforts on behalf of children and families in Lackawanna County resulted in a Community Forum on Creating Resilient Families. The Forum provided a unique opportunity to enhance relationships across disciplines by discussing concrete measures that build upon the innate strengths of families and establishing productive methods for creating resilient families.