Magisterial District Judge, Denise L. Dieter, Class of 1990


Denise L. Dieter is a 1990 graduate of Mansfield University and a 1993 graduate of Widener University School of Law. She was admitted to Mansfield through the Act 101 Program in June of 1986. Dieter attributes Mansfield and her participation in the Act 101 Program as giving her the foundation for success in her life’s endeavors. 

While at Mansfield, Dieter received the Act 101 Motivation Award in 1989, the Student Affairs Outstanding Student Service Award in 1990 and the Class of 1990 Outstanding Senior Award for the Criminal Justice Department. She made both the Dean’s List and President’s List, was the president of the Criminal Justice Club, was a member of the National Honor Fraternity of Phi Sigma Pi, played field hockey, was in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, was a member of the Kiwanis Club, was a TKE Little Sister and worked for Tioga County at the Nation Youth Project using mini-bikes.   

Dieter was elected as Magisterial District Judge in Lycoming County in 2021. She took office in January 2022 and is the first female in Lycoming County to hold the title of Magisterial District Judge.   

Prior to taking office, Dieter practiced law for 29 years. She was sworn in by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019, which enabled her to practice before the highest court in the country and served on many boards and organizations throughout her career. In 2019, Dieter was honored with being the first person in U.S. history to serve as a Chief Compliance Officer for a State Republican Party.

While practicing law, she saw first-hand the need to educate children that the law and law enforcement is not something to fear but rather to better understand and respect.

“After taking office, I was surprised at the number of juvenile filings in my district and the varying types of crimes,” Dieter said. “I had juveniles being charged with truancy, vaping in school, disorderly conduct and harassment, with the alleged actions being very serious and extremely risky internet-related crimes.  

“My concern was twofold,” she added. “First, what is the cause of these acts and second, what can I do to divert the minor away from recommitting a crime and avoiding a criminal record, which could interfere with their ability to go to the military, college, play sports or even be gainfully employed?”

In response to these questions, Dieter created a Juvenile Offender Diversionary Program, which is a first-time offender program with the goal of the juvenile completing the program and not having a criminal record. The Diversionary Program includes an application, signed by the minor, their parents and law enforcement. The components of the program are tailored to the individual minor. 

“I have been creative in that regard and expect that such individual creativity will have more of an impact than a one-size fits all approach,” Dieter said. “I hope the components of the program will increase the likelihood that minors will understand the risks of their behavior and serve as a deterrent for reoffending.” 

Some of the program components include counseling, learning to sign their names in cursive, memorizing their Social Security Numbers, participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, online classes, charitable work and the like. If the minor completes the program, which does include a final exit interview and an essay describing what they have learned, depending on the offense, Dieter will dismiss the charges. Dieter has received positive feedback from the families, law enforcement and educators in the school district.

“As I began to put this program together with input from my colleagues, it became more evident to me that my district is unique, and I would have to mold this program around the needs of the juveniles and their families,” she said. “With this focus, I look forward to working with the youth of my community in a positive and successful manner.”

Dieter lives with her family in Lycoming County and is a sports enthusiast and enjoys traveling.