David Howells Jr. District Justice

Howells to take over as district judge

David M. Howells Jr., an assistant chief in the Allentown Police Department, will be switching from his white police shirt to a black robe in a few days.

Howells is scheduled to be sworn in Friday as a district judge in Allentown. The court, District 31-1-04 at 1501 Lehigh St., hasn't had a full-time judge since District Judge David Leh died in January at age 59.

Howells was nominated by Gov. Ed Rendell and the state Senate confirmed his nomination this month.

Since Leh's death, senior district judges from Lehigh County and neighboring counties have filled in month-to-month. Each time, the temporary replacement had to be approved by the Senate, said Gordon Roberts, the county's district judge administrator.

Howells' appointment brings stability.

"It's always good to have a finality to a situation," Roberts said.

Howells, who couldn't be reached for comment Friday, will serve until January 2012. An election for a six-year-term for the district judge seat will be held in November 2011, Roberts said.

Leh had been magisterial district judge for 12 years. He too had been an Allentown officer, retiring after 22 years as a lieutenant detective.

Howells' father and son have also served on the Allentown police force. His father, David Howells Sr. is a former police chief.