As the first of Pennsylvania’s counties to shut down trials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery County, the state’s third-busiest court system, has taken a particularly cautious approach to preventing the spread of disease in its courtrooms. Now, like courts across the state and country, it is struggling to clear the resulting backlog in the face of still-present limits on trial capacity. 

According to data collected by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Pennsylvania’s courts of common pleas civil divisions had an average clearance rate of 99.5% between October 2020 and November 2021. In that same time, Montgomery County’s clearance rate was 88.7%, which includes a standout month in May with a 218.9% clearance rate in which the court disposed of 1,417 cases through an administrative purge.