‘Absolutely honored’: District Judge Wilden H. Davis makes history with appointment as state group’s president

Magisterial District Judge Wilden H. Davis made history recently as the first African American to be sworn in as president Special Court Judges Association of Pennsylvania.

“I’m more delighted to hold such a position, less delighted that I’m the first African American, but I’ll accept that,” Davis said Tuesday. “I’m absolutely honored.”

Davis, whose court covers Chester Wards 1 and 2, was sworn in at the SCJAP 49th State Association District Conference held in June, where he received proclamations from Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd.

The stated mission of SCJAP is to “foster, promote and advance, without becoming involved in partisan politics of any kind, the study and application of the laws pertaining to, administered by and affecting Special Court Judges, the proper observance of judicial ethics and moral obligations by and among such offices and members, the dissemination of legal and other information for the better performance of the duties of such offices, and for the social purposes as provided in the nonprofit corporation.”

The association would likely be hard pressed to find a better fit for the job than Davis, who has been blazing a trail of judicial service since he knocked out incumbent Robert J. Blythe in 2011.

Davis took office in January 2012 and received the support of both Democrats and Republicans during his 2017 reelection campaign, when he ran unopposed. He received the same support in the May 2023 primary election, when he again ran unopposed, and is poised to begin his third term next year.

Davis has been actively involved with the Delaware County Magisterial District Judges Association and SCJAP’s District 11 — encompassing Delaware and Chester counties and part of Philadelphia County — and has served as past president of both organizations.

He is also the former chairman of the SCJAP Budget and Finance Committee, and has served on the association’s Court Administration, Budget and Finance and Strategic Planning committees.

‘I love giving back’

A graduate of Marion High School in Marion, S.C., Davis earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Morris College in Sumter, S.C.

The namesake of his uncle, Horace Davis, who also served as a district judge in Chester, Davis is a former Devereux Inc. employee, where he worked with autistic children, and a former probation and parole officer working with juveniles at the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center.

He remains highly active within the community as chairman of the board of trustees at Bethany Baptist Church, where his uncle remains in an emeritus deacon status; a board member with the Chester Education Foundation where he said he feels he can give back to the youth in Chester; and a past master of Eastern Light Lodge #46, where his father and uncle also served in the masonic tradition.

Most recently, Davis was appointed to the Constables Education and Training Board by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2022 following a confirmation procedure that ran through the state House and Senate.

“I’m very proud of each one of them,” Davis said. “Each one of those roles have a special place in my life.”

Davis also helps out with the Winners Reach and Teach Boxing Gym in his spare time, getting kids food or gloves or whatever else they might need to succeed.

He said he feels he is following the teachings of his faith by giving back to the community as much as he can, and in his new role will be overseeing all 12 districts of SCJAP and its 509 active judges, not counting senior judges.

“I’ve been quite busy,” he said. “I like to remain busy. I like to do things in the community. I love giving back and I love the judiciary. … I just think it is rightfully the right thing to do and, honestly, it feels good.”

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