After serving as a Magisterial District Judge for District Court 57-3-01 since March 6, 2006, Tonya Osman, a Republican, will seek voter support from both the Republican and Democratic parties to remain in office six more years. “I have gained a wealth of experience in the position”, said Osman, “I have presided over all types of cases, ranging from traffic hearings to criminal homicide arraignments”. Osman routinely issues search warrants, conducts preliminary arraignments, preliminary hearings, summary trials, game and dog law cases, enforcement of borough ordinances, landlord-tenant and civil proceedings, and deals with people brought to the court on warrants. “It is always a challenging job, with the weight of your decisions impacting people’s lives and with keeping up with the changes in not only the laws, but the constantly evolving way that cases are filed and administered. It is also sometimes a very tiring job, with many of the on-call hours spent in the courtroom between midnight and 5:00 a.m. During a week of on-call duty, it is not unusual to spend every night in the office, grab a couple hours of sleep, if possible, and then preside over cases during normal business hours” Osman explains. Osman left her job as Program Director for Your Safe Haven after being appointed by Governor Edward Rendell to fill the position created by Magisterial District Judge Erika McVicker’s retirement
“Seeking the nomination was a hard decision to make,” says Osman. “It was hard to leave my job in victim services where I was recognized at the state level as a pioneer in the field and go out on a limb to make a change, but I felt that I needed to pursue the opportunity. While I am extremely proud of my work in helping to establish Victim Services and Your Safe Haven, I felt that I was ready for the challenge of serving my community on a larger scale.” In addition to leaving her job at Your Safe Haven to become a Magisterial District Judge, Osman also resigned from the following positions: A Crisis Responder with the Keystone Crisis Intervention Team that was deployed to Liberty Park, New Jersey following September 11, 2001; Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and Chair of the PCAR Contracts and Standards Committee; and Chair of the Mental Health Subcommittee of the South Central Mountain Region Terrorism Task Force.
Osman brought to the court a vast amount of experience in the criminal justice field as well as a sound track record of responding to the needs of her community. She was chosen to receive the state-wide, prestigious Governor’s Pathfinder Award for Excellence in Victims Services in the Individual Direct Service Category in 2004 and was honored locally when she was selected as the 2005 recipient of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce Athena Award for her community service, professional excellence, and serving as a role model and mentor for women in the community. “It was quite an honor and a surprise to receive both of those awards when I felt that I was just trying to do my part to build services that people in the community desperately needed” said Osman.
Osman began serving her community as a foster parent in 1981. “The ten years I spent as a foster parent to abused and delinquent children and adolescents gives me tremendous insight into dealing with the juveniles facing summary charges in my court” says Osman. “For many, this is their first contact with the court system and I want leave an impression on them that will hopefully deter them from future involvement in the criminal system.” In 1991 Osman also was one of the founding board members of Camp Cadet of Bedford County and has continued to support this program for Bedford County’s youth throughout its twenty-nine years of operation. Osman currently serves as the President of the Camp Cadet Board of Directors and enjoys seeing her grandchildren now going through the program.
While a foster parent, Osman realized that Bedford County lacked supportive services for victims of crime and abuse. She sought training through Victim Services in Cambria County to meet the needs of the children in her home. She soon became a volunteer and then a staff person of the agency when, then District Attorney Tom Ling, brought the services to the county. Beginning in 1986, Osman staffed the Bedford County satellite office of Cambria County’s Victim Services, Inc., and became the sole provider of victim service programs in the Bedford County community. She worked tirelessly to build services for crime victims and successfully created the current victim/witness programs available to crime victims in Bedford County’s Criminal justice system. “Through the efforts of many hard-working people, the victim services programs I helped to create from 1986 – 1996 merged into Your Safe Haven, a community-based comprehensive crime victim center and domestic violence shelter in 1996.” Following the creation of Your Safe Haven, Osman moved into an administrative role, preparing grant applications for state and federal funds and monitoring contract compliance in the provision of services, receipt and expenditure of funds, data collection, and statistical reporting for numerous projects. “All of the projects I administered received excellent monitoring reports from the agency’s funding sources”, said Osman. As a Magisterial District Judge, Osman is responsible for the timely submission of reports and financial management of the office. “As an Administrator, I am blessed with highly efficient and competent staff and we have always received excellent audit reports from the state auditors. We all work well together to address the caseload and the fiscal demands of the office and as often as possible, I try to work along side of them to further my understanding of their jobs and to be able to pitch in whenever needed” said Osman.
Approximately five years ago, Osman began serving as a representative to the Special Court Judges Association of Pennsylvania. “My goal in working with the association is to provide resources and guidance to Magisterial District Judges across the Commonwealth to help them serve their communities more effectively and to provide local input into how changes at the state level impact our local courts and communities”. Osman currently serves on the Association’s Executive Committee as well as Chairperson of the Public Relations Committee.
Osman graduated from Chestnut Ridge in 1979, and Summa Cum Laude from Allegany Community College in Everett with an Associate Degree in General Studies and completed 90 credits toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland. Osman suspended her academic goals in 1996 to focus on establishing Your Safe Haven and to help staff the domestic violence shelter. At that time she was a member of the Psy Chi Scholastic Honor Society with an overall GPA of 4.0.
Osman passed the Magisterial District Judge Certification exam in December 2005 and attends annual update training to maintain her state certification. Osman explains, “As a Magisterial District Judge I bring an important balance of knowledge of the law coupled with life experience to the office. I would like to continue using the thirty-plus years of knowledge and experience I have gained to serve my community. I bring impartiality, fairness, and integrity to the magisterial district court, coupled with a healthy dose of down-to earth common sense. I administer the office efficiently and I judge each case on its merits and render fair decisions based on the evidence presented.”
Osman lives in the Alum Bank area with her husband Denne and has three adult children, seven grandchildren, and two additional grandchildren, who she loves and spoils on behalf of her deceased sister, Vicki. She is the daughter of the late Rev. Charles F. Rhodes and Geraldine Rhodes Weaverling.