Asked/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at

What happens if a district attorney leaves office in the middle of a term?

In September, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed was nominated by President Donald Trump to become the next U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

If his nomination is confirmed, Freed will leave office roughly two years into his four-year term to become the federal prosecutor for cases arising out of more than 20 counties in Pennsylvania, including Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Perry and Adams counties.

Freed, however, may not be the only Midstate district attorney to leave office early in the near future.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico and Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman are seeking judgeships in the November election. Marsico is running for judge in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, and Stedman will be on the ballot for a seat on the state Superior Court.

How a replacement is selected when a district attorney leaves office early depends on the type of county where they serve, according to Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association Executive Director Richard Long.

For counties with a population of at least 210,000 people — like Cumberland, Dauphin and Lancaster counties — the successor is elected by the county’s Common Pleas judges, Long said.

In counties with a population of less than 210,000 people, the county’s first assistant district attorney is appointed, he said.

In both cases, the new district attorney serves for the remainder of the current term.

The next general election to include the office of district attorney in Cumberland County will take place in 2019.

Send us your questions

Need an answer? We can help.

The Sentinel wants to know what you have always wanted to know.

Whether it’s politics, crime, history or just something you’ve always been curious about, if you have questions, The Sentinel will look for the answer and provide it in our online blog and as a weekly feature in the Sentinel print edition.

Shoot us an email at, call 240-7125 or stop by the office to submit your questions.

The best questions will be featured in weekly Asked/Answered columns online and in print.

Email Joshua Vaughn at Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.