Lawyer sworn in to replace district judge jailed for corruption of minors

Newport’s Magisterial District Court 41-3-04 has a new judge. Sworn in on July 18, with his grandchildren holding the Bible for his oath, Juniata Twp resident Jeffrey John Wood, 69, is ready to serve his community.

Having had nearly 40 years of legal experience, Wood brings a lot to the table. After earning a bachelor of arts in religion and political science from Juniata College and a master in education from Slippery Rock University, he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1983 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., and began his career as a law clerk in the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas.

Wood has had his own legal practice since 1984, serving private clients in Perry, Mercer and Snyder counties. He has also served as chief and senior counsel for the Department of Aging in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel.

Originally from Grove City, Wood has formed deep ties to the Perry County area and is active in various community organizations and activities. He is a veteran of the Pennsylvania National Guard and a 50-year member of the American Legion, belonging to the Newport Post 177. Wood is also a member of the Perry County Oliver Grange and was recognized as 2021’s Granger of the Year.

His wife, Joann Stahl Woods, comes from a family that has been living in Perry County for seven generations.

Wood looks forward to his new role, saying “Perry County is my home, and I am excited about serving my community in this judicial capacity.”

Wood is filling the vacancy left by former judge Michael E. Schechterly. Schechterly was suspended from his seat in November 2020 following an arrest for inappropriate contact with minors, among other charges. In February 2022, Schechterly was permanently barred from office after pleading guilty to the charges.

Following Schechterly’s resignation, Wood was recommended by the Perry County Republican Committee on April 27. He was formally nominated by Gov. Tom Wolf on June 14, and was confirmed by the state Senate on July 8. Wood will serve the remainder of Schechterly’s term and does not plan to seek reelection. He will serve until Dec. 31, 2023, and will be succeeded by the judge elected during the 2023 election cycle, who will begin to serve on Jan. 1, 2024.

Duncannon’s MDC 41-3-03 underwent a similar change in 2018 when former Magisterial District Judge Daniel McGuire was suspended. McGuire officially resigned from his office one year later at the end of 2019. During the 2021 election cycle, Richard Gibney, a former Harrisburg police detective with 20 years on the job, was elected to replace McGuire. Gibney will serve a full 6-year term, the next election for his position being in 2027.