HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A temporary official will be appointed to run one Pennsylvania county court system after the court clerk and two deputies departed on the eve of criminal contempt proceedings about performance at the office.

The “unprecedented leadership void” as of Friday in the Dauphin County clerk of courts office prompted the state Supreme Court to declare a “judicial emergency" and order the county's president judge to appoint a temporary acting clerk. That person will serve until Gov. Josh Shapiro appoints an acting clerk, which is normally an elected position.

PennLive.com reports that the clerk of courts and the first deputy of the office resigned late Friday afternoon and the second deputy was fired. The abrupt departures followed “months of crisis” in the office that saw problems such as defendants stranded in jail, others picked up on bench warrants that should have been terminated and incorrectly recorded case dispositions and sentences, the outlet reported.

In May, the county's president judge ordered the clerk of courts office to correct the problems or be held in contempt. A criminal contempt proceeding had been scheduled for Monday.

“While the clerk is an independently elected official, the efficient and effective operation of the office is critical to ensuring that the courts remain accessible,” Chief Justice Debra Todd said in a statement, also noting the need to ensure that “the essential recordkeeping function” of the office is maintained.

The abrupt departure of the clerk and two deputies necessitated “swift action,” the high court said.

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