Continuing with significant women who have influenced Lycoming County, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Joy Reynolds McCoy certainly deserves recognition. Her ten years of service have brought some significant changes, particularly in the county’s Family Court Division.
Born and raised in Old Lycoming Township, and graduating from Williamsport Area High School, she attended Elmira College and received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1989. From there she studied and graduated from the Franklin Pierce Law School of the University of New Hampshire in 1993.
The future judge kept her local connections, securing a summer internship with the law firm of McNerney, Page, Vandelin and Hall after her junior year in college, and clerked every summer after that. She obviously made an impression as they offered her a job even before she graduated law school.
Joy Reynolds McCoy did a little bit of everything with McNerney, and eventually became a partner in 1998. She loved every part of her practice, but particularly liked being in court, and was especially drawn to family law matters. It was challenging work and required her to practice in seven area counties besides Lycoming. It was also demanding as she had to keep up with local rules as well as the state statutes, but surprisingly, Joy Reynolds McCoy found the complexity and challenge exciting. It was this passion that eventually led her to seek election to the bench, which occurred in November of 2009 when she was elected to a ten-year term in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County.
To be honest, Family Court Division is generally considered the least glamorous, as it presides over the often contentious and sometimes volatile cases involving custody, support, divorce, domestic violence, delinquency and the Department of Children & Youth matters. Traditionally, the newest elected judge inherits this least desirous position. Judge Joy Reynolds McCoy, however, surprisingly campaigned to become the Family Court Judge. She knew that she was bringing fifteen years of experience in this field, and also had considerable pro bono work in domestic violence. It was this unique perspective — a sound understanding of the clients involved along with a solid foundation in the specifics of family law — that equipped this special woman to become a very special judge.
One of her first innovations concerned juvenile delinquency cases. The Juvenile Probation Department utilizes some half dozen specialized facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for these troubled teens, and sentencing to one of these institutions is quite serious. A juvenile probation officer is required to visit each of these young people every thirty days they are in the institution, and Judge Reynolds McCoy made the decision to accompany the JPO until she had visited every single facility. She made the decision to not sentence a young person to any institution she had not personally checked out.
Judge Reynolds McCoy is not just concerned about what goes on in her courtroom; she wants to prevent others from coming before her. She chairs the Domestic Violence Taskforce which meets quarterly to bring people together from all agencies involved in these matters to see if there are any gaps that need to be addressed. She also has created the Lycoming County Domestic Violence Review, which reviews cases of homicide that occurred, and see what could prevent such events from happening in the future.
Of course, her most innovative measure was in 2018 with the creation of the position of Lycoming County Canine — specifically Jedi II, Courthouse Facility Dog. This incredibly kind creature provides comfort to children involved in the judicial system. Frightened children who are brought into Judge Reynolds McCoy’s courtroom now cuddle up to the kindest animal in the county and their fears are greatly alleviated.
Judge Joy Reynolds McCoy has embraced a job that others have sought to avoid. Not only that, she has initiated changes that have made the county a better place. This is a very special woman indeed.